American Idol Opener Pulls Fewer Viewers

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- American Idol's tenth season premiere saw a 13% decline in viewership from last season's opener.

The popular singing contest show returned to News Corporation's ( NWSA) Fox Network on Wednesday night for its tenth season with Steven Tyler, Randy Jackson and Jennifer Lopez as the official judges, and Ryan Seacrest as the show's host.
American Idol's tenth season premiere loses viewers.

Total average viewership dropped 13% to 26.1 million, down from the 29.9 million viewers who tuned in to the ninth season premiere.

The show posted a 9.7 Nielsen rating among adults ages 18 to 49, an 18% drop from the 11.8 rating for 2010's season opener.

The show's viewership dropped 16% in season 9 from season 8 and last year its finale delivered its weakest numbers ever for the series' season-ending show.

When Simon Cowell, Ellen DeGeneres and Kara DioGuardi announced that they would not be returning for the 10th season last year, Fox launched a search for a new panel of judges.

After a summer of rumors and speculation, Fox announced that Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler would join Randy Jackson on the judges panel.

This year, Fox moved the show to Wednesday, followed by the results show on Thursday, in an effort to gain more viewership.

While this season has gotten off to a softer start, Idol is still one of the most successful television shows in history and the only program to claim the top Nielsen rating for six consecutive seasons.

The second part of the season premiere airs tonight at 8 p.m. ET on Fox Network.

--Written by Theresa McCabe in Boston.

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