Idol re-flexes, but loses some muscle tone | None | Uncle Barky's Bytes

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Idol re-flexes, but loses some muscle tone

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Fox's American Idol is still a force, although no longer a record-setter.

Tuesday night's two-hour premiere of the show's seventh season drew 33.4 million viewers nationally to rank as the season's most-watched entertainment program to date. But for the first time it failed to break its own record, set last January when the sixth season opener had 37.4 million viewers.

Idol had increased its premiere audience in each year since launching on June 11, 2002. The seventh season opener ranked just fourth on the show's all-time list, behind the aforementioned sixth edition, Season 5 (35.5 million viewers) and Season 4 (33.6 million viewers).

That's still cold comfort for rival networks, whose strike-affected fare took a serious beating from Idol. It amassed a larger audience than the combined 29.5 million viewers for competing programming on ABC, CBS, NBC and The CW.

Wednesday's second two-hour episode will originate from the Dallas auditions.