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Fox’s ‘Idol’ Premiere Wins Night With 19% Fewer Viewers

Fox’s “American Idol” attracted about 17.9 million viewers in its season debut to lead TV ratings last night even as the audience for the singing competition shrank from a year earlier.

The season 12 start of the most-watched show for nine straight years drew about 19 percent fewer viewers in the advertiser-targeted 18-to-49-year-old demographic, News Corp.’s Fox said today in an e-mail, citing Nielsen data.

After a 20 percent decline in viewers in the first half of the TV season, Fox is counting on “Idol” and the new Kevin Bacon drama “The Following” to win back viewers. “Idol” drew 11 percent more viewers in the demographic than the combined audiences of CBS, ABC and NBC, Fox said.

Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban made their debuts as “Idol” judges following the departures of Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler after last season, when the audience slid 26 percent to average 17 million.

News Corp., controlled by Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rupert Murdoch, gained 1.8 percent to $27.47 at the close in New York. The stock climbed 43 percent in 2012.

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