Did Simon get while the gettin' was good? Season 10 of American Idol debuted to 26.1 million people, down 13 percent from last year's 29.9 million.
Preliminary Nielsen figures showed a more precipitous drop in the coveted 18-to-49 demographic — 18 percent. The Fox show, TV's most popular for several years, scored a 9.7 rating in the demo, compared to 11.8 last year. The numbers have been declining 10 percent to 15 percent for five years.
Apparently, even the curiosity of TV fans who might want to check out the vibe and chemistry of new judges Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler wasn't even at work.
Nonetheless, the show remains miles ahead of the competition.
American Idol recap: How did the judges do?
There was bad news, too, for Paula Abdul and CBS' Live to Dance: It attracted 5.3 million viewers, down from last week's 6.5 million. The show starring the former Idol judge did worse against Idol than The New Adventures of Old Christine and Gary Unmarried last year.
Also at 8/7c, The Middle finished second with 8.7 million (down from 10.5 million last week when the competition was all reruns), while Minute to Win It got 5.1 million on NBC and a Nikita rerun snagged nearly 1.6 million.
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In prime time's second hour, Criminal Minds was runner-up to Idol, with 12.1 million, while Modern Family garnered 11.1 million. NBC's Chase nabbed 4.3 million (and a series-low 1.0 demo) and a Hellcats rerun pulled in 814,000. Cougar Town got 6.1 million at 9:30.
At 10, Blue Bloods took over The Defenders' slot on CBS — and nearly doubled its predecessor's audience. The New York-based cop/family show pulled in nearly 12.2 million, compared to the 6.5 million the Las Vegas-set lawyer program got last week. Blue Bloods also improved 17 percent from its Friday average.
NBC's Law & Order: Special Victims Unit scored 6.9 million, while ABC's Off the Map wound up last in the three-way race with 5.8 million (down from the 7.5 million for its premiere last week).