An average audience of 3.48 million people (a 15.8 per cent share) tuned in to watch the opening night of the second series of Channel 5's Celebrity Big Brother last night - over 1.5 million fewer than watched the premiere of the first series broadcast on the network in August last year.
The show, which screened for two hours between 9pm and 11pm, introduced a brand-new cast of "celebrity" housemates, including former X Factor bad boy Frankie Cocozza, ex-EastEnder Natalie Cassidy, TOWIE star Kirk Norcross and more glamour models than you can shake a stick at.
However, even this relative smorgasbord of on-screen talent was not enough to equal the astronomic 5.1 million (21 per cent share) who tuned in to see the opening night of Celeb BB's first outing on Channel 5 on 18 August 2010. The premiere of that series, the first since the programme left Channel 4 after ten years, proved to be one of the most popular shows ever broadcast on the network. The series, which featured the likes of Jedward, Amy Childs and Tara Reid, was eventually won by Big Fat Gypsy Wedding Star Paddy Doherty.
Despite failing to reach the dizzy heights of the first series, it's likely Channel 5 bosses will be satisfied with CBB's performance against some stiff competition in a busy January schedule. The show was only just beaten in the 9pm slot by Public Enemies on BBC1 (4.14m / 16.6 per cent) and Eternal Law on ITV1 (3.99m / 16 per cent), and easily out-rated Channel 4's Restoration Man (2.06m / 8.3 per cent) and BBC2's Meet Britain's Chinese (1.06m / 4.2 per cent).
Of course, CBB will inevitably see a drop in ratings as the initial excitement of finding out who's in the house is over. However, with the promise of three weeks of D-list high jinks, a plethora of celebrity visitors and wall-to-wall coverage in at least one daily tabloid, perhaps equalling series one's average audience of 2.8 million viewers doesn't seem so impossible after all.
It seems rumours of Celebrity Big Brother's demise on Channel 5 have, at least for now, been greatly exaggerated.