Despite the writers’ strike, American Idol 7 debuted with about 10 percent fewer viewers than watched last year’s debut. Still, 33.2 million people tuned in, easily keeping it as the most-popular show in the known universe.
The number of people watching “rose steadily throughout its two-hour premiere with 28.7 million viewers at 8 p.m. jumping to 35.9 million by 9:30 p.m.,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. The show was watched by twice as many people ages 18 to 49 as ABC, CBS, and NBC had combined, and “made for the highest-rated night of the season on any net, outperforming last Saturday’s NFL playoff game on CBS between New England and Jacksonville,” Variety reports.
Still, this is the lowest-rated debut since American Idol 3 in 2004, when 28 million watched. Last year, 37.3 million viewers watched the first episode, compared to 35.5 million for season five and 33.6 million for season four.
As to the declining ratings, Variety says that the show “was down 13% vs. last year’s opener (15.8/36 in 18-49, 37.4 million viewers overall), but it’s worth noting that ‘Idol’ traditionally rises a few ticks in the nationals, meaning its year-to-year falloff will come in closer to 10%. Also, DVRs are in about 10% more homes than this time last year,” which means those numbers could increase.
In addition, other networks performed better against the FOX show than they have in the past, although they still, obviously, were far behind. NBC’s ratings were “58% over what NBC delivered opposite ‘Idol’ a year ago,” while The CW “produced a 40% gain from last year’s showing with a pair of repeats opposite the ‘Idol’ premiere,” Variety reports. ABC, however, was “down 39% year to year.”