The Fox broadcast TV network confirmed the end of AT&T's
sponsorship on Wednesday prior to the premiere episode of the
show's 13th season.
AT&T could not be immediately reached for comment outside
regular U.S. business hours.
Coke and Ford also sponsor the show.
"Idol" erupted in 2001 as a broadcast TV powerhouse with the
biting commentary of one of its original judges, Simon Cowell.
Last season, tension between judges Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj
made headlines, taking attention away from the talent.
According to Nielsen data provided by Horizon Media, the average
audience size for "Idol" dropped by 9.9 million viewers over the
past three seasons, from 23.1 million in 2011 to 13.2 million
Kevin Reilly, chairman of entertainment for Fox Broadcasting
Company, had said "Idol" viewership will likely slip again this
season — a typical scenario for aging reality shows.
Declining ratings has been a drag on advertising revenue at the
Fox broadcast network's parent 21st Century Fox, the company
reported in August.
(Reporting by Lisa Richwine in Los
Angeles & Chris Peters in Bangalore; editing by Supriya Kurane)
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