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‘American Idol’ Premiere Lowest-Rated Since Season 1

But debut of new judges still easily the most-watched entertainment show of the season

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.

Also read: 'American Idol' Roundup — Critics Love Steven Tyler, Low on J. Lo

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.