American Song Contest – A Viewership Analysis

The American Song Contest is the official adaptation of Eurovision for the United States and airs on NBC. Two of America’s most beloved musicians serve as its hosts: Californian rap icon Snoop Dogg & American Idol’s first winner and multi-platinum singer Kelly Clarkson. For the last several weeks, this new format has been gracing television screens (and laptops, tablets, and phones— thanks to next-day streaming on Peacock).

Producers have given a more polished show as the qualifying rounds have gone by (I might have to stan Christer Bjorkman after this one, not going to lie). It’s a good sign that they’re testing the waters and tweaking elements that may not have looked good on one episode onto the following one. Now that the first half of the season has aired…

Has the American Song Contest gathered an audience to return for a second season?

Snoop Dogg & Kelly Clarkson are the hosts of the American Song Contest

Keep in mind:

  • There are currently three major feeds of viewership for large broadcast & cable networks and are the overnights (which include same-day delay viewing), Live+3 day delay viewing and Live+7 day delay viewing. Vastly different from how TV viewing is measured in Europe, for example.
  • NBC has also made the show available on its streaming platform, Peacock, however, its viewership there will not be made public for now.
  • Also, for advertising purposes, major networks in this country focus a lot on how a show performs with the main demographic bracket: Adults aged 18-49.
  • The show only airs live in the East & Central timezones of the country. For those living on the Mountain, Pacific, or other timezones (like Hawaii, Guam, or the Northern Mariana Islands), the show airs tape-delayed.

Let’s take a look at each show, so far. Shall we?

Qualifier 1

The first-ever broadcast of the American Song Contest was a true test of how this format would work and it was overall nice, however, it could’ve delivered much more. Each of the eleven performing acts of the evening had its own individual postcard + performance segment, including performances from 80’s icon Michael Bolton for his home state of Connecticut, to Wyoming’s Ryan Charles and his “New Boot Goofin’” that could easily be 2022’s new internet meme song.

Did the American viewers fall for it? The answer is well… at least they tried it.

It averaged 2.899 million viewers on the overnight results, with a key demographic rating of 0.5; it competed head-to-head against very established, and still somewhat popular family-friendly American Idol on ABC, and this one averaged 5.289 million viewers and the key demo rating was 0.7. Ended up ranking as the 4th option on both broadcast hours (8-9 p.m. and 9-10 p.m.)

When having a little more understanding of media consumption in 2022, this live viewership isn’t great but largely on par for an American broadcasting network. Especially nowadays, as all major networks (and TV in general) are suffering major viewership declines across the board.

Wyoming’s Ryan Charles

Qualifier 2

The second qualifier of the American Song Contest gave us a lot more country, and a much better pace when viewed live on TV with commercials. Giving the results of the previous week, right at the start of the show added some excitement and it does have its little shock value. With a notably more streamlined production of the acts when it comes to staging, the next eleven representatives put on A SHOW!

Did the American viewers fall for it? Welp… they still love established family-friendly Idol

  • ASC (NBC) – 0.3 key demo, 1.82 million viewers
  • Idol (ABC) – 0.7 key demo, 5.45 million viewers

Similarly, as the previous week, it finished as the 4th option on both broadcast hours (8-9 p.m. and 9-10 p.m.). And the drop from the first to the second show… was calculated at 40%.

Kentucky’s Jordan Smith was the winner of Qualifier 2´s jury vote

Qualifier 3

Snoop and Kelly have developed much better chemistry as the weeks went by, and Qualifier 3 showed it. Also, the pacing was smoother, and we got a couple of segments where 2 songs were performed in them, with postcards. Props to the producers for adding a live update of the Jury vote, instead of the anti-climatic ending presented during the first two qualifiers. The periodic updates on how America was voting for the 12 competing songs of the evening added a spark of TV-drama too.

Were viewers interested in the best show thus far?

  • ASC (NBC) – 0.3 key demo, 1.60 million viewers
  • Idol (ABC) – 0.6 key demo, 5.47 million viewers

Week 3, unfortunately, didn’t miss out on the American Song Contest’s trend of being the 4th option on both broadcast hours (8-9 p.m. and 9-10 p.m.). Not even a night of repeats on the other three major networks (CBS, Fox, and The CW) and a more fluid pace helped to attract more viewership to the American Song Contest.

Alabama’s Ni/Co from this qualifier advanced through the semifinals thanks to the combined jury + televoting results.

Qualifier 4

The fourth qualifying show kept the fluidity we saw during the previous show, and when the results from last week’s group were revealed, for the first time in this season, we were given the actual final combined jury + televote results once the semifinalists were announced. The increased interaction with the contestants from Kelly and Snoop during the course of the broadcast was a welcome change. Also, another welcome change was announcing the final jury results of the evening as a separate segment following the final performance of the round.

Is the show maintaining some stability numbers-wise?

  • ASC (NBC) – 0.3 key demo, 1.40 million viewers
  • Idol (ABC) – 0.6 key demo, 5.06 million viewers

Show number 4, maintained the demographic numbers of the previous week, and viewership dipped a little bit more. It needs to be noted that the CMT Awards were broadcast on that same evening, thus adding special competition on broadcast television, nonetheless, established format American Idol was barely touched.

Georgia’s Stela Cole from this qualifier advanced through the semifinals thanks to the combined jury + televoting results.

Qualifier 5

The final qualifying round mostly kept the fluidity of the previous two weeks, now, it left out showing the breakdown of the combined jury + televoting results. Also, it was quite anti-climatic (and awkward) that Week 4’s acts were all home instead of being in studio for them to learn their heat’s respective results. The musical quality remained, and we had a bit of everything, from an uplifting tropical performance from American Samoa’s Tenelle to New Mexico’s alien-themed urban party from Khalisol. And finally, a female-led act (yay Michigan!) advances to the next round thanks to the jury votes.

Was the American audience more interested in the show this week? Surprisingly, yes! (even if it’s a little bit more)

  • ASC (NBC) – 0.3 key demo, 1.47 million viewers
  • Idol (ABC) – 0.6 key demo, 5.34 million viewers

Week 5 breaks the streak (in a way), although the key demo rating stays the same, the average viewership for the 2 hours increased by around 70K viewers. And let’s remain hopeful that this upward viewership trend stays for the remaining 3 episodes of ASC’s inaugural season.

Michigan’s Ada LeAnn – who is the youngest contestant this year, at 17

Final thoughts

Today’s television landscape is more competitive than 10 or 20 years ago, and for the American Song Contest to possibly continue something – like a surprising increase in viewership – must happen.

Over these five episodes, producers seem to have been reading all the comments made both by the professional critics and viewers, as they have tweaked the show to make it more interactive. They also made improvements to add some drama and suspense around revealing the results.

At the time of publication, no word has been made on whether the American Song Contest will return for a second season.

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