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'American Idol' Holding Onto TV's Top Spot Despite Ratings Slide

Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler have managed to keep the show afloat without Simon Cowell

The first Simon Cowell-less season of “American Idol” has seen a decline in ratings.

But that was expected -- the show’s ratings have declined for six seasons now -- and new judges Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler have managed to help the show hold onto the top slot on television.

Season 10 of “Idol” has been averaging 24.4 million viewers on Wednesdays -- a seven percent decline over last season.  But that’s not as bad as some critics and Fox executives were expecting, considering the premiere drew 13 percent fewer viewers than a year ago -- making it the lowest-rated "Idol" premiere since its debut in 2002.

And the show has shown impressive ratings on Thursdays.

"Last year, the ratings started to really erode right about now," Preston Beckman, Fox’s executive vice president of strategic program planning and research, told the Los Angeles Times. "And we just don't feel that's going to happen.” (The Times noted that "Idol" remains “the most expensive commercial buy of any series on TV,” with a 30-second spot selling for an estimated $485,000, according to Ad age figures.)

Beckman added: “We're not saying it's going to go up necessarily, but we don't think we're looking at the 20% declines we were seeing last year in the second half of the season."

And the show ought to get a boost on Thursday in its first “live” telecast of the season.