"Idol" fell from last year's series-high premiere perch, yet was once again a ratings titan that readily blew away all competitors Tuesday night, as well as all other network premieres from earlier this season. "Idol" received a 13.8 rating among adults 18 to 49, according to preliminary Nielsen data.
That's down 13% from last year's 15.8 and down 10% from 2006's 15.3.
Among total viewers, "Idol" was seen by an average of 33.2 million, down 11% from last year.
Both the demo and the total-viewer figures are the lowest Tuesday night "Idol" premiere standings since 2004.
Contrary to last season, when the judges took critical knocks for some vicious mocking of the contestants in the opening rounds, this time Simon Cowell was on his best behavior. One rejected contestant was even given a group hug by the judges.
"The King of Mean was replaced by the Prince of Nice," the NY Post declared.
Why are the judges so well behaved?" asked Lisa de Moraes.
Other early reviews:
Daily News: "If last night's 'Idol' kickoff wasn't a show for the memory book, it did nothing to discourage tens of millions of fans from signing up for the new ride."
EW: "The show's producers seem to finally have taken note of what I (and scads of you message-board posters) have been calling for over the past several seasons: a more balanced talent-to-train-wreck ratio in the audition rounds."
Among last night's other network competitors, NBC's "The Biggest Loser" held up much better against the Fox ratings "Death Star" this year.
The two-hour "Loser" scored a 3.0 rating, up 58% from last year's performance in the time period against the "Idol" premiere.
NBC came in second place for the evening, averaging a 3.5 rating compared to Fox's 13.8. At 10 p.m., NBC's "Law & Order: SVU" (4.6) won the hour.
In third place, CBS's "NCIS" also held up solidly (3.0), though part two of its movie "Comanche Moon" dropped sharply from Sunday night's premiere (2.4).
Fourth-place ABC scheduled two episodes of "Just For Laughs" (both 1.2), "According to Jim" (1.2), a "Carpoolers" repeat (0.9) and "Boston Legal" (2.0).
The CW had a "Reaper" repeat (0.6) and "One Tree Hill" (1.3).
More to come...