American Idol' Loses First Ratings Fight to 'Dancing With the Stars'

There are plenty of reasons why American Idol's ratings have slipped this season: the exit of Paula Abdul, a lackluster field of Idol hopefuls, repetitive theme weeks and Simon Cowell's inevitable departure. While ratings are down, American Idol still had a lock on the Number One in its multiple time slots — until last week, when AI's Tuesday and Wednesday broadcasts finished behind ABC's Dancing With the Stars in total viewers, the AP reports. Dancing's Nielsen numbers clocked in at 22.97 million, ahead of AI's 21.8 million.

Post-Paula Depression: Rob Sheffield on what's wrong with American Idol.

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Ratings magnet and mom of eight Kate Gosselin is no doubt part of the reason why Dancing's numbers pushed past Idol. But the ratings slip is a big deal for Idol, long considered one of, if not the most powerful show in prime time. As Rolling Stone previously reported, Howard Stern has been mentioned as a possible replacement for Cowell, who is leaving to develop The X Factor for U.S. audiences at the end of Season Nine. The show is also bringing back Season Eight's runner-up Adam Lambert and his loyal crew of Glambert viewers. As RS reported yesterday, Lambert will mentor the Top Eight contestants next week.

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