Variety reports that Fox phenomenon “American Idol” opened to huge numbers Tuesday night, with the two-hour premiere ranking as the second highest-rated episode of the series to date — and easily topping any primetime program this season.
According to preliminary nationals from Nielsen, the opening night of auditions on “American Idol” averaged a 15.7 rating/36 share in adults 18-49 and 37.3 million viewers overall, up about 5% vs. its premiere of one year ago. The only other “Idol” telecast to rate higher was the May 2003 season finale between Reuben Studdard and Clay Aiken.
This makes it the highest-rated entertainment telecast in adults 18-49 on any network since the series finale of NBC’s “Friends” in May 2004. Compared to this season’s previous top primetime telecasts, Tuesday’s “Idol” premiere comes in 43% higher in adults 18-49 than the season premiere of ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” (11.0/26) and 30% bigger in total viewers than the college football BCS title game on Jan. 8 between Florida and Ohio State (28.8 million).
From 8 to 10, Fox’s 15.7 rating/36 share in adults 18-49 more than doubled the combined ABC-CBS-NBC total (7.7/17). It also tied “The X-Files” in 1997 as Fox’s highest-rated season premiere to date in the key demographics.