American Idol continued to be a ratings machine with Tuesday night's seventh-season premiere broadcast -- but it did dip a bit from last season's record-setting debut numbers.

Idol 7's two-hour debut broadcast averaged 33.2 million total viewers and scored a 13.8/32 rating/share in the Adults 18-49 demographic and a 12.9/33 rating/share among Adults 18-34, according to Nielsen Media Research preliminary fast national ratings -- a performance that easily makes it the highest-rated entertainment telecast of the 2007-2008 television season.

However those numbers are down about 10% from American Idol's monster sixth-season premiere, which averaged 37.3 million total viewers and a 15.7/36 rating/share among Adults 18-49 and a 14.8/38 rating/share among Adults 18-34 demographic in January 2007.  At the time, the premiere had ranked as the highest-rated entertainment telecast since NBC's May 2004 broadcast of Friends' series finale.

Last night's American Idol premiere marks the first time since the show's 2002 debut that an Idol premiere has failed to deliver bigger ratings than the previous edition's season premiere.

Idol's seventh-season premiere also fell slightly short of the ratings numbers that the show's fourth (33.5 million viewers and a 14.0/33 in Adults 18-49) and fifth season (35.5 million viewers and a 15.3/34 in Adults 18-49) premieres had delivered, making it the lowest-rated premiere since the show's January 2004 third-season debut.

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Despite the prior season decline, Tuesday night's two-hour Idol 7 premiere still managed to hammer the combined total programming of the six other major network broadcasters in the 8PM to 10PM ET/PT time period, out-delivering CBS, ABC, NBC, The CW, Univision and Telemundo's combined ratings by 33% among Adults 18-49 (a 13.8/32 rating/share vs. a combined 10.4/23 rating/share); 52% among Adults 18-34 (12.9/33 rating/share vs. a combined 8.5/22 rating/share); and 118% among Teens (12.2/35 rating/share vs. a combined 5.6/17 rating/share). 

In addition, it also outperformed CBS, ABC, NBC and The CW by 12% among total viewers (33.2 million vs. a combined 29.7 million).

As the highest-rated entertainment telecast of the 2007-2008 season on any network, Idol 7's premiere broadcast blew away the season's previously top-rated programs among Adults 18-49, Adults 18-34, Teens and total viewers.

Idol beat Grey's Anatomy's September 2007 fourth-season premiere (the season's previously top-ranked telecast among the Adults 18-49 and Adults 18-34 demographics) by 55% among Adults 18-49 (13.8/32 rating/share vs. 8.9/21 rating/share) and by 42% among Adults 18-34 (12.9/33 rating/share vs.9.1/23 rating/share). 

Idol's debut also beat CSI's September 2007 eighth-season premiere (the season's previously top-ranked telecast among total viewers) by 31% among total viewers (33.2 million vs. 25.4 million).  And it crushed Family Guy's November 2007 special 100th-episode broadcast (the season's previously top-ranked telecast among Teens) by 94% among Teens (12.2/35 rating/share vs. 6.3/18 rating/share). 

In addition, Idol 7's premiere also helped Fox deliver the highest-rated night of the 2007-2008 season -- including both entertainment and sports programming -- among Adults 18-49, Adults 18-34, Teens and total viewers. 
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Fox beat CBS' broadcast of last Saturday's NFL playoff game between New England and Jacksonville (the season's previously highest-rated night in the Adults 18-49 demographic and among total viewers) by 24% (13.8/32 rating/share vs. 11.1/31 rating/share) among Adults 18-49 and 11% among total viewers (33.2 million vs. 30.0 million).