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Like most television subgenres, reality TV competitions are no longer enjoying the gargantuan successes of the early 2000s, with over-saturation and cord-cutting playing big roles in the overall decrease in popularity. That said, they still draw millions of viewers on a weekly basis, and this midseason has been particularly noteworthy for pitting NBC's consistent hit The Voice up against ABC's back-so-soon American Idol reboot.
Granted, they're only up against each other on Monday nights -- since Idol's first ep is on Sundays, while The Voice's second ep is on Tuesdays -- but the writing is already all over the wall as far as which show is more popular with viewers. Let's break things down a bit.
The Total Viewers
Back when American Idol was one of the biggest shows on TV, which was just around ten years ago, it was averaging over 30 million viewers an episode. Nothing on the small screen is pulling in those kinds of numbers these days, not even with delayed viewing, but American Idol's reboot numbers are still probably lower than anyone expected. The premiere pulled in a respectable 10.48 million viewers, adding another 1.3 million in DVR views. But it lost over 2 million viewers between its Sunday premiere and the Monday night follow-up, and it hasn't topped 8 million in Live+Same Day airings since that second episode, with its latest installment bringing in 7.72 million people.
Similarly, The Voice has also seen an overall decline from season to season, but nothing quite so drastic as American Idol's, having lost an average of just over 3 million viewers in total since its Season 2 peak of 15.76 million. Season 14 started off strong, with 12.31 million tuning in to the first night of blind auditions, though that dipped to 10.84 on the second night. Since then, The Voice has seen a few nights go above 11 million viewers, some below it around 10 million, and then some bottoming out in the 9 million range. (The "best of" clip shows drew less than 7 million each, but that's to be expected.)
American Idol and The Voice went directly up against each other on five different Monday nights already, and on each of those Mondays, The Voice managed to beat out its reality rival by over two million viewers per episode. Not much of a contest there.
The Winner: The Voice, hands (and buttons) down.
The Demo Ratings
While netting giant crowds of viewers is obviously important, it's no secret that advertisers are far more interested in the number of audience members that fit into the key 18-49 age demographic, which often has more of an impact on a show's future than many people may assume. And ABC no doubt hoped that younger viewers would tune in to see pop star Katy Perry shaking things up on the judge's table alongside Lionel Ritchie and Luke Bryan. And for the most part, they have. Idol's premiere scored a 2.3 demo rating, which is very solid, if not overwhelmingly impressive for a revival like this. (ABC is happier with Roseanne's ratings, for sure.) Like the viewer totals, the demo ratings dropped with successive episodes, and its most recent Sunday/Monday scores were 1.5 and 1.6, respectively. (People loved that dog, though.)
The Voice had its own pop star addition for Season 14, with the ridiculously bubbly Kelly Clarkson joining returning coach Alicia Keys. It's unclear how much her involvement directly plays into the show's demo ratings, but someone is definitely doing something right. The Voice's premiere demo rating capped off at 2.8, and five of its next six episodes' stats either tied or topped American Idol's 2.3 season high. Its most recent installments earned a 1.9 and a 1.3, with the latter episode not featuring any new performances.
To be expected, each of the Monday night face-offs between The Voice and American Idol played out just as the viewership comparisons indicated they would, with the NBC series earning higher ratings for each of the Monday night airings.
Winner: The Voice, once again.
Are you guys shocked, or is this what you expected? Let us know in the poll below. American Idol airs Sunday and Monday nights on ABC at 8:00 p.m. ET, while The Voice airs on NBC on Monday and Tuesday nights at 8:00 p.m. (The Voice will also air on Wednesday, April 18, with the third night of the Live Playoffs.) To see what other new and returning shows will be popping up soon, head to our midseason premiere schedule and our summer premiere schedule.