We are a few days removed now from the end of “Dancing with the Stars,” which has allowed us to dust off the sequins, exhale from Melissa Rycroft’s win, and do our best to clean the scuff marks off of the ballroom floor. Even though this was a fun and particularly strong season of the show when it comes to dancing (which it should be been, considering the “All-Stars” theme), there is one thing that appears obvious to us at the moment: the same people are watching the floor get scuffed year after year. The show is struggling to attract new viewers, and over time their established audience is getting older and people are abandoning ship.
For the best example we can give at the moment of viewer erosion, let’s put things into this perspective. For the finale, the show drew a 3.0 rating in the 18-49 demographic, and over 16 million viewers. If you consider that a full point in the demo is close to 1.265 million viewers aged 18-49, the show only drew around 3.795 million viewers within this range. This is less than 25% of the audience who watched the finale, and this is pretty terrible considering the people that advertisers are looking for to spend top dollar. By comparison, the latest episode of “The Walking Dead” over on AMC drew a 5.4 rating in the demo (the top-rated drama series on TV) and over 10.4 million viewers. This is roughly 61% of the show’s viewing audience.
While we’re not saying that “Dancing with the Stars” needs to have 61% of its viewing audience be in the demo or that older viewers are damaging the show, they do need to find a way to attract some new blood while keeping the longtime fans happy. Even if the show was able to average a 3.0 rating (which it did not do this season) and get over a 3.5 for the finale, ABC would likely be thrilled. How can it do that? Here are a few noble suggestions:
1. Casting, casting, casting – If you want viewers, you have to spend money. Don’t be afraid to shell out money if it somehow gets Michael Phelps on the show. Heck, even go for Ryan Lochte and make it a competition between two swimmers. Rather than getting Disney Channel stars who are supporting roles at best on their shows, go for a lead actor, or go for a teen star such as Cody Simpson who is popular, but could use the show to take his career to the next level.
We know that you are not going to get some A-list actor on the show, but why not swing for the fences again? Beg Katie Couric again to come on, finally bite the bullet on a “Real Housewives” star, and maybe get someone a la Wayne Gretsky from a sport that has not been featured on the show before. Why not even go for Ann Romney, since her schedule opened up earlier this month? The cast has to get people talking again, and the only people who talked about this cast were people already watching the show.
2. Sorry, Brooke …. but you have to go. We do think that these backstage hosts largely get a bad rep since it is a hard job to look good next to the amazing Tom Bergeron, you do need someone to at least bring a little bit more fun backstage and ask questions beyond “how does that feel”? We still nominate Carson Kressley, and even if that doesn’t work we would ask Niecy Nash or someone from outside of the show with a knack for comedy. “Dancing with the Stars” is not an information-based show; it’s pretty much a visit to the old variety theater. Let’s make things as crazy as humanly possible!
3. Don’t go back – You can change the scoring back to whole numbers, but be wary that viewers have already seen the foxtrot and the samba a million times. We would not mind seeing such dances as the Charleston or even Bollywood becoming a little more common in the later rounds of the show, since there needs to be something surprising we see every season. This challenges the pros, the performers, and, like with “So You Think You Can Dance,” it keeps us on our toes.
4. Keep everything else – Don’t change the judges, don’t change Tom. Keep as many of the same pros as you can. This is not a show that needs to be completely reinvented, since there is a reason that it has been around for 15 seasons.
What do you think needs to be changed with “Dancing with the Stars” moving forward? This is where you come in to the picture! We want to hear some of your thoughts here below, and you can also view more on Melissa Rycroft’s win over here.