Big news for American Idol: Nicki Minaj (along with country singer Keith Urban) is coming on board as one of the talent show’s newest judges, joining newcomer Mariah Carey and longtime Idol judge Randy Jackson, who will be a “mentor” going forward.
But will the addition of Minaj boost ratings, especially in the African American community? The judge’s seats are now filled with three African Americans, and with blacks watching more TV (210 hours per month) than whites (about 153 hours), Latinos (131 hours) and Asians (100 hours), it could be a smart move by AI producers. TV/radio producer Derrick Mack thinks so.
Mack, founder of MACK-Nificent Enterprises, LLC, produces the upcoming show Release Your Inner MC, in which celebrity old-school hip-hop artists judge amateur MCs. “In my opinion, I think having Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey on American Idol will offer an immediate boost in ratings in the black community,” he told us via chat. “Because the two ladies have such a different appeal from each other, they should attract a diverse cross-section that would surely reach outside of our communities to the general audiences as well.”
But Mack adds, “How long will Nicki be able to keep those new audiences tuning in considering the ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ trend that exists in modern rap music? …Nicki Minaj doesn’t really represent the black community accurately or completely. While her popularity is obvious, she’s not going to draw the loyalists that say, Salt-n-Pepa or Queen Latifah might draw. But then again, Idol’s main target is not the real hip hop audience, it’s a general audience.”
According to an article in USA Today, adding a judge that appeals to the urban audience has worked once before for AI. “’Idol is hoping for the kind of success it had when it hired Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler in 2010 and saw ratings rise for the first time in five seasons,’ says analyst Brad Adgate of ad firm Horizon Media. Ratings dipped significantly, however, in their second and final year,” the newspaper says.
But the new celebrity talent boost in the ratings didn’t work for The X Factor when it added Britney Spears. Spears “[hasn't] provided a straight-out-of-the-gate ratings bump,” the article continues. “I don’t think if Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler were introduced now that they would drive up ratings the first year even.” USA Today blames the “saturation” of singing shows and celebrity judges. In addition to AI and X Factor, there’s also Duets, The Voice and America’s Got Talent, to name a few.
There’s only so much TV anyone can watch.