Update: Down a hefty 23% from last season’s opener, the premiere of “American Idol 13″ drew a 4.6 adults 18-49 rating with 14.99 million viewers. Though enough to win the night, the numbers reflect the extent to which the series has fallen from grace and to which the new judging panel–no matter how charming–failed to pique curiosity.
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Thanks largely to the charming new judging panel, Wednesday’s “American Idol” scored rave reviews from critics and fans.

Unfortunately, interest in that panel was not strong enough to deter a significant ratings decline.

FOX’s thirteenth “American Idol” season premiere garnered a 9.4 overnight metered market rating. While that signals a dominant nightly victory in both adults 18-49 and total viewers, it also represents a 20% decline from the 11.7 delivered by last season’s premiere.

That episode, the first “Idol” to feature the lineup of Nicki Minaj, Keith Urban, Randy Jackson and Mariah Carey, ended up drawing a 6.0 adults 18-49 rating with 17.93 million viewers.

In selecting Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick, Jr. as its panel, this year’s “American Idol” team made it clear its first priority was to improve the quality of the viewing experience.

The new panel was not expected to draw big ratings out of the gate, but the hope is that the stronger judging trio will hook viewers and minimize the ratings bleed that typically occurs as the “Idol” season progresses.

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