After a two-year hiatus and a network switch, American Idol returned with a two-hour premiere on ABC on Sunday night, opening to 10.3 million viewers and a 2.3 rating/8 share among adults 18-49, according to Nielsen.
ABC’s version of the show is again hosted by Ryan Seacrest, with an all-new judges’ panel featuring Katy Perry as well as Lionel Richie and country star Luke Bryant.
The pairing of Idol with the series debut of Deception at 10 p.m. and America’s Funniest Home Videos at 7 p.m. allowed ABC to average 8.2 million viewers over the night, giving America’s Network its most-watched Sunday primetime since Sept. 30, 2012. From 8 to 10 p.m., Idol handed ABC its best performance in four years.
The series opener on ABC performed less well than the rebooted show’s series finale on Fox two years before, according to Variety. In 2016, Idol ended its run on Fox with a 3.0 among primetime’s key adult demographic and 10.96 million viewers, so the show’s start on ABC was down about 21 percent in the demo but just 6 percent in total viewers. In addition, Idol’s ABC premiere was on par with how the final season of the show performed on Fox.
In its heyday, Idol was a mammoth hit, opening its sixth season in 2007 with a 15.8 rating among adults 18-49 and 37.4 million viewers.
The Idol lead-in helped boost Deception’s debut, making it the highest rated Sunday night 10 p.m. premiere on ABC since Quantico in 2015.
Next up on ABC’s reboot slate: Roseanne, which returns to the network with most of its original cast intact on March 27.
Most of broadcast stepped aside for Idol. Fox chose to take on its former hit by preempting its regular comedy line-up in favor of special O.J. Simpson: The Lost Confession? that averaged a 1.2 among adults 18-49 and 4.4 million viewers.
NBC returned Timeless for a second season, after briefly canceling it. The show, starring Mad Men’s Abigail Spencer, premiered to a 0.8 in the demo and 2.96 million viewers, down 50 percent in both measures from its series premiere in Oct. 2016, but fairly close to where it left off when it ended last May. An American Ninja Warriors special led into Timeless and averaged a 0.9 in the demo and 3.5 million viewers.
CBS went with back-to-back episodes of 60 Minutes at 7 and 8 p.m., and originals of NCIS: Los Angeles at 9 p.m. and Madam Secretary at 10 p.m. Combined, the three shows allowed CBS to tie NBC for third in the demo but take second place behind only ABC among viewers with 8 million.
[Images courtesy of ABC/Eric Liebowitz]