Last night's (Jan. 15) return of "American Idol" drew 33.2 million viewers -- down from last year but still nothing to sneeze at.

Last night's (Jan. 15) return of "American Idol" drew 33.2 million viewers -- down from last year but still nothing to sneeze at.

The mega-series was down 11% in viewership when it premiered to 37.4 million viewers, according to preliminary estimates released by Nielsen Media Research. It was the lowest premiere in viewership since season 3 on Jan. 20, 2004, though the number is still much higher than any other series on TV.

"Idol" was down 13% in adults 18-49 -- with similar declines in adults 18-34 and adults 25-54 -- with a 13.8 rating/32 share, Nielsen said. Last year's premiere averaged a 15.8/36 in the demo. It was close to the 14/33 that the fifth season premiere did on Jan. 18, 2005.

Viewership rose steadily throughout its two-hour premiere with 28.7 million viewers at 8 p.m. jumping to 35.9 million by 9:30 p.m.


For "American Idol" analysis all season long, visit the Billboard blog at JadedInsider.com.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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