Barring a surprise with Thursday's American Idol, this week's telecast of The Voice will rate higher with adults 18-49 and total viewers than American Idol. Monday's two-hour installment of The Voice drew a 6.0 adults 18-49 rating and and a smidgen over 16 million viewers. Last night's two-hour American Idol scored a 5.1 rating with adults 18-49 and 15.88 million viewers in the preliminary ratings. It's likely Idol will be adjusted up a tenth or two in the final numbers, but there's no chance it will overtake The Voice this week with adults 18-49 (though there's a good shot it will work its way into a virtual tie). Update: American Idol wasn't adjusted up in the final national numbers with adults 18-49. It was adjusted up to 16.1 million viewers though, at least putting ahead of The Voice in total viewers for the week...
So now 'The Voice > Idol" meme ensues, and I'd guess in one fashion or the other we'll see those comparisons for a while regardless of what happens. Some have asked me if I am surprised by American Idol's ratings. I tend to ignore the intra-week machinations but barring a turnaround it does appear that American Idol will be down for the season than the typical ~10%-15% annual year over year declines that always have happened. That's a little surprising since This has led some to opine that there is singing show saturation where adding The X Factor and having both hurts both Idol and The X Factor. That's perhaps a reasonable thing to speculate, but it's impossible to quantify. To be a contrarian I'd have to ask "if there is singing show saturation, why is The Voice doing better than The X Factor, and at least this week, even better than Idol? The easiest explanation to me is that for whatever reason, people just like The Voice more than The X Factor and at least this week more than American Idol (at least in live and same night DVR viewing).
But I'm much more surprised that The X Factor didn't perform better than I am by Idol being down. With a major overhaul underway, it will be interested to see what happens with The X Factor next season.
What surprises me the most though is the interest in ratings for The Voice. It's rare that we ever got much interest in Idol's ratings (Simon leaving did generate more interest in Idol's post-Simon ratings last season though). There's almost never much interest in unscripted show ratings, so that wasn't a surprise. But there is interest in The Voice's ratings and that's backed up by both qualitative data in the comments, and quantitative data in our site stats. I'm not sure if it's just a case where we were already around when The Voice launched where is Idol was on for years before we launched, or bewilderment that something besides the NFL is performing so well on NBC.
For and against, people are interested in The Voice. There seems to be the perfect storm where there are an equal number of anti-fans who will proclaim "See, I knew it. The Voice is doomed!' if it drops to a 5.5 adults 18-49 rating next week.