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Wednesday Ratings: 'American Idol' Returns With a Bang--Albeit a Smaller Bang Than Last Year TVbytheNumbers

Fox's "American Idol" returned last night with its new faces at the judging table and big numbers in the Nielsen ratings, but not as big as last season, reports TVbytheNumbers.com.

The two-hour “Idol” premiere was off 18% from last year’s Tuesday premiere in the 18-49 demo, with this year’s debut averaging a 9.7 rating to last year’s 11.8. This year’s show averaged 26.1 million total viewers, down 13% from last year’s 29.9 million.

For the night as a whole, Fox came out with a huge win for its two-hour prime time, averaging a 9.7 rating in adults 18-49 to a 2.7 average for ABC, 1.9 for CBS and 1.6 for NBC. Fox’s average of 26.1 million total viewers for the night easily outpaced CBS (9.9 million), ABC (7.4 million) and NBC (5.4 million).

At 8 p.m. the first hour of "Idol" had an average rating of 9.1 in the 18-49 demographic, compared with ABC's "The Middle" and "Better With You" averaging 2.7 and 2.2, respectively, in the same demo. NBC's "Minute to Win It" averaged a 1.6 rating in the 18-49 demo for the hour, and CBS's "Live to Dance" earned a 1.0 in the same demo for the time period.

At 9 p.m. "Idol's" second hour grew to a 10.3 average rating in the 18-49 demo for the hour. ABC's "Modern Family" and "Cougar Town" averaged 4.6 and 2.5, respectively, in the 18-49 demo, while CBS's "Criminal Minds" logged a mean score of 2.85 in the 18-49 demo for the time slot. NBC's "Chase" managed a 1.0 in the 18-49 demo for the hour.

The 10 p.m. hour saw a tight race that was won by NBC’s "Law & Order: SVU" with a 2.25 in the 18-49 demo, compared with ABC's "Off the Map" with a 2.1 in the same demo and a 2.0 average for CBS's "Blue Bloods" in its new time slot.