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Fox planning small changes for 'American Idol' audition episodes

By Christopher Rocchio, 02/26/2008 

While the changes aren't likely to be earth-shattering, Fox is planning to tweak next season's American Idol audition episode broadcasts.

"It won't necessarily be anything radical; we just have to figure out how to start the show next year," Preston Beckman, Fox's executive vice president of strategic program planning and research, told Broadcasting & Cable in a Monday report.  "The early part saw some [ratings] erosion and then we got to Hollywood."

Idol 7's debut broadcast averaged 33.2 million total viewers and scored a 13.8/32 rating/share in the Adults 18-49 demographic and a 12.9/33 rating/share among Adults 18-34 -- a performance that easily made it the highest-rated entertainment telecast of the 2007-2008 television season.

However those numbers were down about 10% from Idol's monster sixth-season premiere, which averaged 37.3 million total viewers and a 15.7/36 rating/share among Adults 18-49 and a 14.8/38 rating/share among Adults 18-34.  In addition, Idol 7's premiere represented the first time since the show's 2002 debut that an Idol premiere failed to deliver bigger ratings than the previous edition's season premiere.

Beckman said that it's still too early to mention any specific changes but didn't sound overly concerned with the show's performance.

"The good news is that there is still enormous sentiment for the show," he told Broadcasting & Cable. "If you listen to the audience, you will generally be fine."

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