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'American Idol' season 12 opens with nearly 18 million premiere viewers

"American Idol" judge Nicki Minaj during the auditions for Season 12. Credit: Fox

"American Idol,” back with (mostly) new judges and a self-proclaimed new mojo, turned in respectable numbers Wednesday night for its 12th season opener: 17.8 million viewers.

Although...  expect the drumbeat to begin right about now that it was a soft launch, and way down from last season's opener of 21.9 million. But not to be too much of an apologist, this is still a solid opening act (a 6 adult 18-49 number, by the way) for an aging hit that's taken it on the chin from “The Voice” and even (to a much lesser extent) “The X Factor.”

There is a lot of competition out there, while “The Voice” turned in -- for fans at least -- a particularly satisfying season. There is little doubt Fox expected a different, read: much better number, than this and is probably pleased it's as good as it is.

The final number from Fox will be out shortly and you can expect an even more positive spin from the news release.

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