'American Idol' ratings: Season 10 premiere down from 2010, but grew throughout telecast
In contrast, the Season 9 "Idol" premiere, when Ellen DeGeneres joined the fray, earned an average of 29.8 million viewers and a 15.9 rating/24 share, with an 11.7 rating in the 18-49 demo. The Season 8 premiere from two years ago, when Kara DioGuardi was added, snagged 30.4 million viewers and 11.6 rating in the adults aged 18-49 demographic, and the Season 7 premiere, the last time we had only the original judging panel, was at 33.4 million viewers and a 13.8 rating in 18-49.
So each year has been dropping slightly. The ratings in the 18-49 demographic have gone from 13.8 to 11.6 to 11.7 and now to 9.7 in the last four season premieres. But these are still numbers any network would kill for.
A comparison at the season premieres of all 10 seasons (viewers in millions):
Season 1: 9.9 (summer premiere)
Season 2: 26.5
Season 3: 28.56
Season 4: 33.58
Season 5: 35.53
Season 6: 37.4
Season 7: 33.4
Season 8: 30.4
Season 9: 29.8
Season 10: 26.1
So Season 10 is the lowest premiere since Season 1's summer debut. But again, these are still numbers any network would kill for, since the rise of cable programming in the last five years has affected the network numbers.
Were the still-high numbers for the Season 10 premiere due to curiosity about Aerosmith's frontman and Jenny from the block behind the judges' table? Only time will tell. The good news is that when broken down into half-hour segments, "Idol" grew consistently over the course of its two-hour premiere, going from 23.4 M to 26.5 M to 27.1 M to 27.2 M over the four half hours. The 18-49 demo rating also grew -- 8.4 to 9.8 to 10.2 to 10.4.
The real test may be Thursday night's "premiere," as "Idol" has never aired audition episodes on Thursday night before. "Idol" generally only uses Thursdays during the three weeks of the semi-final rounds when the contestants are split boys/girls.
Last year's second night (which was a Wednesday) dropped by an average of 3 million viewers and the 11.7 share in the 18-49 demo fell to an 8.5, so expect some drop-off between Wednesday night's premiere and Thursday night's second episode.
But the takeaway is -- even with a drop from last year, "Idol" is still a ratings juggernaut. It more than doubled (and sometimes tripled) the next closest competitor in every timeslot.
Source: The Nielsen Company