American Idol to Capture New Howard Stern Audience
in Strategy & Trends | by Ethan Lyon
From the on-air personality that brought Fart Man and has a tumultuous history with the FCC, Howard Stern is moving to prime time? American Idol is moving into its 8th season and adding a lightening rod personality like Howard Stern would ensure the show would reach its 10th season on buzz alone. But will America’s oldest teenager help American Idol become a teenager?
The first step in rebooting American Idol was to secure Ellen DeGeneres. The next, more bold step, appears to be Howard Stern, who could extend the reach of American Idol to more men. Fox is making a bet that it can expand the popularity of American Idol. Looking at Howard Stern’s current listeners, American Idol could be positioned to grow even further. Stern currently carries a 35-49 male, surprisingly entertainment-oriented audience. In fact, Stern’s audience share some of the same interests as American Idol’s viewers. Both are interested in pop culture, entertainment and celebrity news, such as Entertainment Weekly, according to Quantcast.com. While carrying Ellen DeGeneres to appeal to American Idol’s core audience of 35-49 female audience, Stern’s current listeners are in-line with the show’s pop culture, entertainment premise.
Could Stern’s controversial brand image alienate American Idol’s current female audience even with Ellen on board? Sparxoo’s Dave Capece says, “American Idol is at peak popularity. After season 1 of the Howard Stern era, it’s all downhill.” Although Stern’s brand is rebellious, sometimes perverse and opinionated, he’s also very intelligent. Stern’s career is marked by a series of controversial events. From MTV Awards Fart Man, in which Stern descended from the ceiling in an assless jumpsuit, to his comment about the Columbine shooters having sex with their victims, Stern is a lightening rod of controversy. However, his resume is diverse and when you look beyond the surface, you might be impressed. While he produced an album 50 Ways to Rank Your Mother he also graduating magna cum laude (a 3.8 GPA) from Boston University. This mix between edgy and smart appeals to quite a sizable audience. In fact, Stern is the highest paid radio personality in America with an astounding 1.23 million listeners in a given week.
Howard Stern’s influence and tendency for controversy would ensure American Idol’s growth in the short-term. Stern, side-by-side with Ellen DeGeneres, promises to be a buzz machine. Remember, it’s reality TV and Stern will be in real-time. “They know he would be great TV and would clash with the other judges such as Ellen DeGeneres and the contestants. ‘Idol’ will do what it takes to sign him,” said a show source to the NY Post. However, if Ellen DeGeneres cannot balance out Stern’s perverse personality and controversial FCC-banning comments, he could be a complete train wreck for the show in the long-term. We could be celebrating American Idol’s teenage years if the “Fart Man” can bring his listeners to prime time and DeGeneres can keep Idol’s current audience on board. Although, that is one big if.