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As American Idol slips, do they need to bring back Simon Cowell?

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By Noel Young | Correspondent

March 1, 2013 | 3 min read

It is still the biggest US show but "American Idol," suffering a rapid loss of viewers, drew its smallest Wednesday audience in more than a decade this week, pulling down the total ratings for News Corp.'s Fox network.

Simon Cowell: in at the start

The once dominant singing show, Idol was closely linked with Brit Simon Cowell from its launch in 2002. He finally left as judge in 2010 but one question this week was if there is any way back in for Simon.

The show drew 13.1 million viewers on Wednesday, the least since August 2002, according to Nielsen. The audience of viewers ages 18 to 49, a group targeted by advertisers, was the smallest since July 2003.

The Fox network ratings this season are down more than 22 per cent in total viewers, said AdAge.

For "Idol" alone, the ratings are down 18 per cent in total viewers on Wednesdays and 15 per cent on Thursdays, according to Nielsen data. Among the younger audience, the show has slid 16 per cent on Wednesdays and 13 per cent on Thursdays.

The show had fewer viewers in the coveted 18-49 demographic than Modern Family on ABC.

Idol still won the night with 13.5 million viewers compared to Modern Family‘s 10.6 million viewers, according to TV By The Numbers.

But it’s still not a great sign for the show, especially considering Fox shelled out an estimated $54 million on judges including Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj, said Forbes.

"The show has been on a steady decline in rating but getting beat by Modern Family is a new low," said the magazine .

The show feels stale compared to competitors like The Voice and Fox really has two choices, says Forbes writer Dorothy Pomerantz: Accept that the show is past its prime and be happy with lower (but still huge) ratings or go for a total revamp.

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