American Idol drops 18 percent but has more viewers than every other network combined

American Idol lost 18 percent of its young viewers compared to last year’s debut, the first measurement about how viewers feel about the show now that Simon Cowell is gone and Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler are judges.

However, the Fox series was more popular than shows on all the other four broadcast networks–combined–and had more young viewers than ABC, NBC, CBS, and The CW combined, and also more viewers overall, except when it faced both Modern Family and Criminal Minds.

The show “premiered down 18% among adults 18-49″ and had an average of 26.1 million average viewers, which “was down 13% from last year’s premiere 29.945 million,” which is “more than the 10-15% seasonal ratings decline that has been typical in recent seasons,” according to TV By the Numbers.

Entertainment Weekly notes that this is “the lowest-rated premiere for Idol since its 2002 summer debut, and the biggest drop ever for the show between seasons.” Also, tonight, it “will face steeper competition” than it did last night.

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Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 37, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.