February 10, 2006 05:42 PM by Joe Blackmon
The biggest show in the world of music is no longer the Grammy Awards. American Idol scored a clear knock out on the Grammys. If it had been a championship bout, the refs would have probably called the fight in the first two minutes. Kelly Clarkson would have had a larger audience if she had done a guest appearance on her old show rather than performing on the Grammys. According to Nielsen Media Research, nearly twice as many people watched American Idol as watched the Grammys.
While Kelly Clarkson savored her two Grammy wins, there could be a strong argument made that they pale in comparison to a previous recognition bestowed on Clarkson. There are several Grammy Award winners every year, but there is only one American Idol. Clarkson didn’t even see fit to acknowledge the show which she owes her entire career to.
Clarkson later said she thanked the show indirectly by thanking fans. However, we have to wonder if she was scared to mention Idol because it might remind the three viewers still watching the Grammys to switch over to American Idol on Fox with the rest of the U.S. population.
Having made mincemeat out of the Grammys, the next contender to face American Idol is the Olympics. The winter Olympics only role around once every four years and usually dominate TV ratings. However, this year most are predicting that they won’t be able to touch American Idol’s ratings.
NBC is even trying to leverage one of their own reality shows in hopes of giving the Olympics a fighting change against American Idol. In a unique promotion, NBC is allowing viewers to actually vote for an Olympic athlete to be a contestant on The Apprentice 6. It’s a great idea that will probably benefit both the Olympics and The Apprentice. The audience participation component of American Idol is one big part of its success, and NBC is essentially adding an audience participation component to the Olympics. Apprentice fans who might not normally watch the Olympics now might watch in order to determine who they want to cast on the show. Olympic fans who might not normally watch reality TV now might watch The Apprentice to see their favorite athlete compete.
Even with this clever Apprentice tie-in for the Olympics, the games face tough competition in American Idol. American Idol will likely dominate when it goes head-to-head against the Olympics unless some interesting, sentimental story develops around an American athlete or team. One major component of American Idol’s popularity is that viewers like to cheer for the underdog from Smalltown, U.S.A. who finally gets their shot at superstardom. For the Olympics to have a fighting chance, they will need to have some American Idol magic emerge in one of the athletes or teams competing in the game. If someone no one expected to do well suddenly gets within range of a gold medal, then the Olympics could actually make a fight out of its showdown with American Idol.