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American Idol has returned to the airwaves for an ABC reboot only a couple of years after coming to an end on Fox, and ABC pulled out all the stops for the new version of the show. The network managed to nail down a trio of big names in the music biz as judges, and Ryan Seacrest returned to his role as host. The show got the axe on Fox after declining ratings, and the question was whether ABC could put a twist on the format that would hook viewers to give the reboot a try. Well, the numbers are in for the revival premiere of American Idol, and... they're somewhat mixed.
The revival premiere kicked off the sixteenth season of the former juggernaut franchise, and on the one hand, it unfortunately scored the lowest ratings of any American Idol premiere to date. The premiere scored a 2.3 rating in the key 18-49 age demographic and was watched by 10.3 million people, according to Live+Same day calculations. The 2.3 rating is a drop of 23% from the Season 15 premiere on Fox back in 2016 when it won a 3.0 rating. All things considered, ABC may not be able to turn its revival of American Idol into the same kind of hit it was in its heyday on Fox, which is unfortunate given the significant investment in the series.
On the other hand, even if American Idol's premiere didn't outscore past seasons of the show, it still did well for ABC. The American Idol premiere delivered the highest ratings in ABC's Sunday lineup in more than five years and helped propel ABC into the big winner on broadcast television for Sunday night. The series premiere of Deception in the 10 p.m. ET slot after American Idol's two-hour premiere won decent ratings as well, scoring a rating of 1.3 and 6.1 million viewers. ABC averaged 8.2 million viewers and a 1.7 rating, which placed it 70% higher in the 18-49 demographic than its closest competition on network primetime.
It should be interesting to see how the ratings for American Idol change in the coming weeks. Most shows experience drops in ratings and viewership after their premieres, but that might not be the case for ABC. Although this new American Idol reportedly won't showcase bad auditions a la William Hung and the judges don't intend to be so harsh as to discourage young talent, all it may take is one or two buzzworthy contestants to attract an audience, especially now that we're in an era of social media and viral videos. American Idol could continue to be a hit for ABC and perhaps even increase in the ratings to rival some of the earlier seasons on Fox. We'll have to wait and find out for ourselves.