Is American Idol entering its decline phase? Although the return was the most-watched programme so far this year on US TV, it hasn't had a starting audience this low since 2004. Even the defence of the audience size isn't that spirited:
A spokesman for the show said it was not surprising for the popularity of a show, even one as big as American Idol, to fall after eight seasons.
He added that a bigger chunk of the audience had started recording the two-hour programme.
But isn't one of the attractions for broadcasters of this sort of programme that it has to be watched more-or-less live, that it's appointment television like what they used to have in the old days? Do advertisers want to know that more and more viewers will be spooling through the adverts?
Could it just be that a simple-minded programme is now creatively running dry?
Viewers watched hopefuls auditioning in Phoenix, Arizona. They included a contestant wearing only a swimsuit who earned the nickname Bikini Girl.
An astonishingly sharp and inspired nickname. Bikini Girl - because she's a woman, and she's in a bikini. When you have it explained to you, it's quite clever, isn't it?