‘America’s Got Talent’ Ratings: Howard Stern Casting Didn’t Quite Go as Planned

America's Got Talent Cast 2012 It’s fail-safe: when you want to boost a show’s ratings, you bring in a high-profile new star. Works every time. Well sure, there might have been one or two exceptions to the rule historically, but what are the odds of that ever happening again? Cut to…

America’s Got Talent ratings are down, despite the highly anticipated (or so the producers thought) arrival of Howard Stern as a new judge. The two-hour season premiere brought in 10.3 million viewers and a 3.6 rating. This is a 16 percent drop from the previous season.

Stern was brought in to replace departing judge Piers Morgan, who left the show last season. Known for his brash, controversial radio persona, Stern was assumed to provide an energetic comic personality to AGT, in contrast to the much drier Morgan.

As such, NBC focused most of its promotional material on Stern’s arrival. Additionally, Stern took center stage (literally, at one point) during the premiere itself. The great majority of the action was focused on him. His commentaries vastly outnumbered those of co-judges Howie Mandel and Sharon Osbourne. Stern even outshone many of the contestants.

But Stern wasn’t able to pull in viewership; at least not enough to combat the absence of the usual NBC Monday bread-winner The Voice, or Stern’s CBS competition like the How I Met Your Mother and Two and a Half Men season finales.

Does Stern deserve his huge AGT paycheck? Could he soon go the way of The X Factor‘s Paula Abdul?


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Staff editor Michael Arbeiter’s natural state of being can best be described as “mild panic attack.” His earliest memories of growing up in Queens, New York, involve nighttime conversations with a voice from his bedroom wall (the jury’s still out on what that was all about) and a love for classic television that spawned from the very first time he was allowed to watch “The Munsters.” Attending college at SUNY Binghamton, a 20-year-old Michael learned two things: that he could center his future on this love for TV and movies, and that dragons never actually existed — he was kind of late in the game on that one.