Ratings are down about 26 percent from last season. While the number of commercials won't drop -- it is network TV, after all -- the amount of money a company is willing to pay per ad certainly will drop. That means less advertising revenue and, although some of the lost funds can be deferred until next season, not all can.
In addition, as with many companies, manpower is dragging down "Idol," too. Jennifer Lopez reportedly receives over $15 million, and so does Ryan Seacrest (despite his outside company which has created a poorly received iPhone keyboard). This year's new set cost between $5 and $7 million, while the show is still paying the two executive producers they fired after last season (Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick).
Another cost to the show, sources said, is the amount spent on viewer phone calls. That costs the show at least $5 million.
Does that mean the show is going away? Not yet, or at least not after this season. Sources said it return, with at least part of the reasoning behind that being the "X Factor" cancellation, which if combined with an "Idol" cancellation would mean too many holes in Fox's primetime schedule.
With that, one has to wonder what will happen next season, if things continue as they are now.