While former 'American Idol' judge Simon Cowell had said that his newly launching 'X Factor' needed to pull in 20 million viewers during its September debut in order to be a success and fell well below that lofty goal, the Season 11 premiere of 'Idol' raked in 21.6 million viewers last night (Jan. 18.)

Despite topping what Cowell had hoped for for his own show, it was a bit of a disappointment for 'Idol,' as the premiere ratings dipped significantly from 2011, dropping by a whopping 18 percent.

Reuters reports that 21.6 million viewers watched last night's auditions, a steep drop from the 26.2 million that tuned in to the season 10 premiere in January 2011. Granted, new judges Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler made their debut at the time, so there was a natural curiosity and excitement resulting in increased watchers. But this season's inaugural stats mark a sharp decline in viewership.

Another area where 'Idol' dropped last night was the heavily desired 18-49 demo, a core group that advertisers target. The audience in that demo dropped 27 percent.

All the ratings decreases aside, the show was still the most watched program on American TV for the night.

Fox execs are also spinning the news, saying the network even predicted a downtrend for ratings, since the show has been on the air for so long.

The second night of the Season 11 premiere continues this evening at 8PM ET.