'American Idol' keeps sliding in the ratings.

AuthorCarter, Bill

Byline: Bill Carter

PASADENA, Calif. -- Fox executives were candid about their expectations for the ratings for the premiere of the new season of "American Idol.''

Several of them said the same thing here this week: We expect to be down about 20 percent.

There is probably little solace in being right -- the premiere Wednesday night was down 22 percent in the audience Fox sells to advertisers, viewers between the ages of 18 and 49 -- but in one way the network was satisfied with the initial results.

It easily could have been worse.

The 22 percent drop is based on a fall from a 6 rating last year for the premiere to a 4.7 rating on Wednesday for the 18-49 category. In total viewers, the premiere attracted 15.2 million viewers, down 16 percent from 17.9 million...

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