An American Idol Decline Could Hurt AT&T

Sure, it’s still the biggest thing on television. But naysayers worry about financial problems developing for American Idol that could hurt the future of the series and its sponsor partners like AT&T.

Revenue was down more than $4 million in the first quarter compared to last year. The recession was an obvious culprit. AT&T is one of the show’s biggest sponsors, along with Apple’s iTunes. Of course, the phone giant has spent a lot of money to get its brand slapped all over the program, but it’s also presumably generated a ton of revenue from what’s become an iconic television program.

Despite changes to reinvigorate Idol, its number of viewers is down 7 percent this season. Show producers, of course, say there’s nothing to worry about since it’s still America’s No. 1 show.

On top of declining revenue and viewership, is a concern about re-signing Simon Cowell, whose contract expires in a year.

TNS Media Intelligence reports that Fox made more than $900 million on commercials for “Idol” in 2008, a whole lot of cash for the broadcasting company. But on the flip side, when there’s no more Idol, it’s a huge loss of exposure for AT&T and others. These sponsors can only hope the end is not too soon.

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