"Idol" finale slumps, but Phillips tops iTunes

Thu May 24, 2012 3:46pm EDT
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The "American Idol" finale audience slumped to a record low, but the show's newly crowned champion Phillip Phillips hit No.1 on iTunes on Thursday with his first single "Home."

The 11-year-old Fox singing contest, once a TV industry juggernaut whose finale attracted more than 30 million viewers in 2006 and 2007, was watched by just 21.5 million viewers on Wednesday night, according to ratings data.

Viewers in the 18-49 age group most-coveted by advertisers dropped by about 32 percent compared to last year's "Idol," although the program was still the top show on U.S. television on Wednesday night.

Fox executives said earlier this month that the audience drop-off this season had been greater than anticipated and that several tweaks were in the works to freshen the format for 2013.

Despite the smallest TV audience since the show began in 2002, viewers cast a record 132 million votes for finalists Phillips and 16-year-old singer Jessica Sanchez.

And on Thursday, Phillips' first single, the folk-rock ballad "Home", topped the iTune charts, while his compilation album of "Idol" cover songs from Season 11 was in the No.3 spot.

Phillips, an acoustic guitar player and songwriter, said "Home" didn't represent his style of music, which he described as more jazz and rock.

"It's not really something I would write," the 21 year-old from Georgia told reporters on a conference call.   Continued...

Phillip Phillips holds the winner's trophy after being named the winner during the 11th season finale of "American Idol" in Los Angeles, California May 23, 2012. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni