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5 Signs That Indicate "American Idol" May Be Nearing Its End

The reality competition show will enter its 14th season on Jan. 7, but what was once Fox's biggest success story has recently taken some hits from which it will be hard to bounce back.

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American Idol was a groundbreaking reality show, a singing competition show that hands out golden tickets to Hollywood like Willy Wonka. Fox's show was an instant success, but the high notes that Idol once hit now seem like distant echoes, given its downward trajectory over the last decade.

Thanks to changes at the judges' table, show alterations, and increased competition — particularly from NBC's The VoiceIdol has lost a hold on what made it so addictive. And 13 seasons later, one has to wonder how much longer the show can go on, particularly in light of these developments:

1. Jan. 15, 2014: AT&T severed ties with Idol.

Ray Mickshaw / Fox via Getty Images

After 12 years, the telecommunications company withdrew its sponsorship from the show — AT&T had sponsored the show's voting component. The carrier had an agreement with the network that allowed viewers to text in their vote, in addition to or in place of calling a toll-free number. In 2011, AT&T worked with the show to move voting online, allowing viewers to log on to a voting page through their Facebook accounts.

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2. May 22, 2014: The ratings dropped off a cliff.

Fox via Getty Images

The Season 13 finale performed horribly for Fox. The first night, the performance show, only drew 6.6 million viewers, making it Idol's lowest-rated show ever. The second night — which crowned a winner for the season — saw just an uptick to 10.1 million. But despite the night to night increase, it was the smallest viewership of any finale in the show's run. According to the Washington Post, Idol has lost more and more viewers with each finale since 2008. For comparison: At the show's height, during Season 2, it had 38 million people tune into the finale.

3. Nov. 11, 2014: Randy Jackson announced he wouldn't be returning to the show.

Fox via Getty Images

Jackson was the only original judge still on the show — Paula Abdul had left in 2009 and Simon Cowell in 2010 — and in 2013 Jackson said he wouldn't be returning to Idol. But Fox invited him back to work as a mentor to the contestants and he agreed to return for one more season. However, it seems this time his departure is solidified, as he told Deadline, “after 13 seasons, I felt now was the perfect time to leave American Idol." Scott Borchetta, the president/CEO of Big Machine Label Group, will fill Jackson's slot in the upcoming season.

4. Dec. 13, 2014: The show was reduced to one night per week.

Ray Mickshaw / Fox via Getty Images

“We are going to do the performance show and the results in the same show,” Idol host Ryan Seacrest told The Hollywood Reporter about the upcoming season. Since Idol was launched, it has taken up two time slots each week, in order for viewers to have many hours to vote for their favorite contestants. But there will no longer be a results episode each week, and Fox will instead combine the two installments into one weekly episode. It is unclear how voting will be handled with performances and eliminations being held back to back. The scaled down schedule will begin once the show gets to its Top 10 round.

5. Dec. 16, 2014: Coca-Cola pulled its products off the show.

Michael Becker / Fox via Getty Images

Coca-Cola announced that it had ended its sponsorship of Idol after 13 seasons. From 2012 to 2014, the show lost $387.2 million overall from advertisers and $32.8 million specifically from Coca-Cola, according to market research firm Kantar. In addition to a financial loss, Coca-Cola's absence will also leave a big hole at the judges' table, as the show's judges have traditionally been shown sitting with large glasses with those famous red cursive letters placed in front of them.

American Idol Season 14 will premiere on Jan. 7, 2015 at 8 p.m. on Fox.

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