For all its good reviews, Wednesday's "American Idol" premiere had 13 percent fewer viewers than the show's premiere last year — and was the lowest-rated "Idol" premiere since its debut in 2002, according to preliminary numbers.
The show — and its new judges — had 26.1 million viewers, down from 29.7 million last year. But the premiere was still easily the most-watched entertainment show of the season, and "Idol" claimed its highest ratings since Feb. 9, 2010.
The premiere was down 18 percent among viewers ages 18-49, but Fox says it expected such a decrease as the show revamps itself after the departure of original judge Simon Cowell, plus Kara DioGuardi and Ellen DeGeneres. The new show got at least decent reviews — and new judge Steven Tyler got very good ones — fueling Fox's hopes that word-of-mouth will be strong.
Fox also expects the ratings to go up slightly when the final numbers are released.
"Idol" premiered in June 2002 to 9.9 million total viewers.