"We laugh just a little too loud
We stand just a little too close
We stare just a little too long
Maybe they're seeing something we don't, darling

Let's give them something to talk about --

Other than hair!"

-- From "Something to Talk About," written by Shirley Eikhard, as sung by Sanjaya Malakar

The publication Broadcasting & Cable found a survey that News Corp.'s (NYSE: NWS) (NYSE: NWS-A) Fox TV network floated to figure out what's wrong with this year's American Idol. Long story short, Fox is saying, "Our profits are endangered! Please tell us how to save them!"

The show is still dependably No. 1 in the ratings and dominates the Tuesday and Wednesday night TV landscapes. But the average audience this year is about 7% smaller than that of last year -- the first such prolonged dip in show history. The problems may look obvious to outsiders like us, but Fox insiders need some help. Hence, the survey.

Judging by what the survey asks, the studio appears willing to change anything and everything about the show. How important is Paula, Randy, or Simon to your enjoyment of the show? How about Ryan? Oh, we almost forgot: the contestants? Do the judges chit-chat too much? Do you care who wins?

The only thing the studio had to do was to follow the spirited Internet discussions about the show. The mere existence and popularity of websites such as Vote for the Worst, whose authors campaign for more personality and entertainment value on the show, as opposed to prepackaged commercialism, should tip Fox off. Consider that this year's viewership figures, with the blandest Top 12 that I can remember still standing, are coming up short against last year's Sanjaya stylings and Beatboxin' Blake Lewis.

News Corp. clearly wants to preserve its top-of-the-mountain ratings into eternity, to draw in hordes of adoring advertisers who bat their eyelashes at the primest of primetime ad slots on TV. The company draws 19% of its annual revenue and 22% of its operating profits from its television segment (read: Fox Television), and it would be a shame to let Disney's (NYSE: DIS) ABC or General Electric's (NYSE: GE) NBC step in and steal those sweet, sweet dollars. Other questions concern how you like to watch rather than deal with the content, as the company worries about losing viewers to Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG) YouTube and to commercial-skipping TiVo (Nasdaq: TIVO) owners.

Could Fox shorten (perish the unprofitable thought!) the audition reports and the results shows? Can Simon finish an occasional sentence before Ryan cuts him off? Will the stage be pink and paisley? Tune in next season to see the differences.

Hey, Sanjaya, could you do Paula's job? Pretty please, dawg?

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Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares in Disney and Google but holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. You can check out Anders' holdings if you like, and Foolish disclosure does a mean Neil Diamond impression.