The new series of American Idol has opened with record ratings of 37.3 million viewers in the US.

The US show scored its highest ever debut audience, featuring Simon Cowell with fellow judges Paul Abdul and Randy Jackson. Series five previously held the highest record with a debut night audience of 35 million.

The show’s creator Simon Fuller said: “American Idol continues to make entertainment history. Not only is it the biggest show in America, but it is also now the most popular format in the world.

“These amazing numbers from our season six premiere continue to defy all reasonable expectation. The show just keeps growing.”

Fuller has sold the talent contest format to 42 different countries.

Last year’s American Idol contest was won by Taylor Hicks.

The viewing figures provide Fuller with yet another cause for celebration. Last week he secured a £128 million deal for his client David Beckham to play for LA Galaxy.