In the end, the prospect of watching the dueling divas battling it out at their judging tables did not result in the return of viewers who had abandoned American Idol last season. Quite the contrary, it would seem. According to Nielsen Research, the season premiere of the talent contest, which introduced new judges Niki Minaj, Mariah Carey and Keith Urban saw ratings plummet 19 percent from the comparable episode last year, which had seen its ratings plunge 21 percent. Wednesday night's telecast averaged 17.81 million, and while that figure represented the lowest season opener since the show's debut, it nevertheless was far and away the highest-rated show of the night. Its closest rival was CBS's Criminal Minds, which drew 12.53 million viewers in the 9:00 p.m. hour. (NBC didn't even try to compete -- instead airing a full slate of reruns that together averaged just 2.90 million viewers.
'Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing)' arrives in April.
The two awards have made for a great 72nd birthday present for the country music icon.