It's tough at the top. "American Idol" stormed back on to the primetime sked on Tuesday, bringing along 33.2 million viewers and a 13.8 rating/32 share in adults 18-49 for its two-hour opener.
Nobody would ever sniff at 33 million-plus viewers or a 32 share in the key demo, but it's gotta be noted that this year's debut is off 11% in viewers from last year (when the two-hour preem drew 37.4 million) and 13% in adults 18-49 (15.8/36).
That said, there isn't a network exec on Earth who wouldn't give up several appendages to have "Idol" on his or her air. Welcome back, Simon. And to all you helpless hopefuls -- a la Ben Haar, 24, of Delaware (pictured right), who found a way to get the camera's attention at the Philadelphia audition -- thanks for giving it your all, and then some.