Fox’s smash music talent show “American Idol” kicked off its fourth season in style Tuesday, delivering its biggest opening-night results and the second best scores for any episode of the series, according to preliminary nationals from Nielsen.

From 8 to 10, “American Idol” averaged a huge 14.0 rating/33 share in adults 18-49 and 33.5 million viewers overall – the best ratings for any primetime program this season. An estimated 54 million people watched at least some of the two hours of auditions. Compared to last year’s huge premiere, “Idol” was up 9% in adults 18-49 and 16% in total viewers.

Fox dominated its two hours before NBC rose up at 10 to win easily with “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (5.9/15 in adults 18-49, 15.4 million viewers overall) over CBS’ “Judging Amy” (3.2/8 in adults 18-49, 11.5 million viewers overall) and ABC’s “NYPD Blue” (3.2/8 in adults 18-49, 8.9 million viewers overall).

Elsewhere, the competish took a hit opposite “Idol” from 8 to 10, with top performers including CBS’ “Amazing Race” (4.0/9 in adults 18-49, 10.5 million viewers overall) and “NCIS” (3.2/8 in adults 18-49, 14.7 million viewers overall), ABC’s “According to Jim” (3.3/7 in adults 18-49, 9.0 million viewers overall) and NBC’s “Biggest Loser” (3.2/8 in adults 18-49, 8.5 million viewers overall).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: Fox, 14.0/33; NBC, 3.8/9; CBS, 3.5/8; ABC, 2.8/7; WB, 1.0/2; UPN, 0.7/2.

In total viewers: Fox, 33.5 million; CBS, 12.2 million; NBC, 10.0 million; ABC, 7.8 million; WB, 2.4 million; UPN, 2.0 million.