Simon who? Perhaps putting to rest any fears that [article id="1486475"]"American Idol"[/article] would nosedive without iconic judge Simon Cowell, Thursday night's [article id="1659177"]first elimination episode[/article] of season 10 put up some stellar numbers for the singing competition.
On a night when most of the competition on rival networks consisted of reruns (including, count 'em, six episodes in a row of "The Office" on NBC!) after the vaults were emptied last month during sweeps, "Idol" raked in 25 million viewers to win the ratings crown. In fact, the impressive numbers for "Idol" gave Fox the most-watched non-sports Thursday night number of any network over the past four years.
The two-hour extravaganza, which not only shaped [article id="1659216"]the top 10[/article], but also featured six performances by singers vying to score three wild card spots — not to mention the [article id="1659178"]debut of judge Jennifer Lopez's "On the Floor" music video[/article] — was a 29 percent increase from last season's first elimination night, according to Billboard.
With an 8.1 rating in the 18 to 49 demo, numbers were also up 13 percent over last Thursday's "AI" episode. As you might expect, ratings climbed during the pivotal final half-hour of the broadcast, going from 25.96 million between 9 and 9:30 p.m. to 26.66 million for the final half-hour.
The good ratings news bodes well for the start of live competition next week, when new judges Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez will have to finally show their stuff during two real-time broadcasts a week after charming viewers during the season's pre-taped episodes.
Don't miss [article id="1658897"]"Idol Party Live"[/article] every Thursday on MTV.com, following the "American Idol" results show, for analysis, celebrity guests and even some karaoke — get in the conversation by tweeting with the hashtag #idolparty! In the meantime, get your "Idol" fix on MTV News' [article id="1486475"]"American Idol" page[/article], where you'll find all the latest news, interviews and opinions.