American Idol's ratings dip as Carey and Minaj debut
American Idol has seen a dip in its ratings in the United States at the start of its latest series - its 12th in total.
17.9 million viewers watched Wednesday's (16 January) season opener, down from 21.9 million the year before.
The figures came despite heavy pre-publicity following the addition of new judges Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey.
American Idol was still Wednesday's most watched US television programme, by some margin.
As well as Minaj and Carey, country singer Keith Urban was seen making his debut on the judging panel alongside stalwart Randy Jackson.
Viewers have steadily declined over the years and in 2012, the programme lost its crown as the most watched US television show to Sunday Night Football.
Apart from the very first season, Wednesday's ratings are the lowest for an American Idol premiere yet.
Commenting on the figures, the Fox network, which broadcasts the show, said it had "an expected 19% decline versus last season" in the 18 to 49 demographic.
The age bracket is the most crucial to US advertisers.
It's hoped the addition of Minaj and Carey would entice younger viewers to the show.
There have been several reports of feuding between the female stars, both on and off screen.
Whether genuine or for the cameras, the first episode showed the pair regularly sniping at each other.
Commenting on a hat that Minaj was wearing, Carey said: "We can have accessories? I didn't know that was allowed. That's all I'm gonna say."
Minaj replied: "Why'd you have to reference my hat?" before accusing her of rudeness during an earlier meeting in a lift."
During the filming of this series, producers were reportedly forced to stop auditions after they became involved in a heated argument.
Last year's series was won by country singer Philip Phillips.