"American Idol" went through a lot of changes this year.
No longer is the reality show on twice a week. The bright red Coke cups on the judges' tables are gone after the pop company stopped being a major sponsor. Yet, in the current TV climate, the ratings for "American Idol" aren't that bad, at roughly 10 million every Wednesday night.
Scotty McCreery, the Season 10 champion, said he still watches the show when he can. While the country music star, who will play Treasure Island Casino on April 11, tunes in whenever he can, he knows the show, which started in 2002 when he was just 8 years old, won't last forever.
"Everything eventually comes to an end," McCreery said. "I can see it down the road stopping. With this being the 14th season, it has had an amazing run. No shows these days last 14 seasons. They have accomplished a lot, so I still think they are doing great.
"I know the headlines talk about how the ratings are dropping and this and that and they are trying to do different things, but I still enjoy tuning in and watching when I can. But all good things come to an end. I don't know when that will be, but I'm sure down the road."
While the ratings for the show has stabilized from the free fall between 2012-2014, McCreery remains the competition's last commercially successful champion. Since winning the crown, McCreery has sold close to 2 million records and more than 2.5 million digital singles. When McCreery auditioned for the show in 2009, country music was flooded with former American Idol contestants, including Carrie Underwood, Kellie Pickler and Bucky Covington. The first American Idol, Kelly Clarkson, said she will put out a country album this year.
McCreery says it's special when he runs into other Idol contestants.
"It really is a family," he said. "There are only a certain number of us that have done (the show). And when we see each other from time to time, we do talk about it. Yet, sometimes, we don't."
Regardless how long the 21st century's first TV phenomenon lasts, McCreery said will never forget about his time on the show.
"I think about it a good amount of the time," he said. "Obviously, we try to move on from it from a career standpoint, and move from a TV star to music star, that's the goal.
"As far as looking back on it, I think back to it all the time and I still live in my hometown (Raleigh, N.C.), so folks never let me forget it," McCreery said.
"It was such a crazy, cool time for this town as far as everybody rallying around me, which was cool," he said. "I had a cool time on the show. When I look back at videos, though, I cringe. I keep thinking. 'What was I doing?' But I think we are starting to figure things out now."