American Idol keeps its audience without Paula Abdul, adds viewers 18 to 34

After losing viewers every year, American Idol returned last night with about the same number of viewers who tuned in to the first episode last season.

The episode averaged 29.7985 million viewers over its two hours, starting around 25 million and peaking with 32.3 million in the 9:00 half-hour. That’s down slightly from the 30.074 million who watched Kara DioGuardi’s debut a year ago. TV By the Numbers reports that the episode was “right in line with last year’s premiere performance” among total viewers and those 18 to 49, but “was as up +8% versus last year’s Tuesday premiere among Adults 18-34.”

Against Fox’s behemoth, TV By the Numbers notes that “NCIS ratings (and CBS as a whole) held up surprisingly well, while NBC’s Biggest Loser and the entire ABC line up ratings suffered.”

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