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‘American Idol’ return is a big hit

10.34 million watched the episode on Sunday night

Image Credit: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP
Luke Bryan, from left, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie participate in the "American Idol" panel during the Disney/ABC Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour on Monday, Jan. 8, 2018, in Pasadena, Calif. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

The revamped American Idol had a strong debut on ABC, reaching more than 10 million viewers and shrugging off Fox’s attempt to blunt the premiere’s impact with its special on OJ Simpson.

The Nielsen company said that the 10.34 million who watched the return of American Idol represented ABC’s biggest Sunday night audience with regular series programming since 2012.

Fox’s presentation of a 2006 Simpson interview in which he speculated about how he might have killed his former wife was watched by 4.4 million people — an echo of the sensational interest the Simpson case drew two decades ago.

There was bad blood when Fox ended American Idol two years ago, and the Simpson interview was seen as Fox’s attempt to prevent a fast start for ABC.