‘American Idol’: Deal in Place at ABC to Revive Competition Series (EXCLUSIVE)

'American Idol': Deal in Place at

ABC has a deal in place with producers FremantleMedia and Core Media Group to revive “American Idol.”

The broadcast network and the production companies have settled on a framework for an agreement to bring back the long-running singing-competition series. According to sources, the Alphabet is eyeing a March premiere for the show, which would potentially air on Sunday nights, where ABC has struggled in recent seasons against NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” and programming on Fox and CBS that benefits from a strong NFL lead-in. The Alphabet is the only broadcaster of the Big Four that does not have an NFL package.

Yet to be decided is whether or how longtime host Ryan Seacrest could return to the franchise. Seacrest this week was announced as the new co-host of ABC syndicated morning program “Live!” with Kelly Ripa. He is relocating to New York for the role — a move that presents a substantial obstacle to a return as host of “Idol,” which has always filmed in Los Angeles.

ABC, which has yet to close the deal, had passed on “Idol” after hearing a pitch for it earlier this year. At that time, as Variety reported exclusively, NBC had emerged as the lead network to pick up a revival being shopped by FremantleMedia, which has insisted on a minimum 25-hour order from any broadcast partner.

But the Peacock backed away from a deal, concerned that “Idol” could negatively impact singing competition series “The Voice,” and turned off by a high asking price from the producer. The ABC deal would preclude the involvement of original judge Simon Cowell, who was rumored to be a possibility to rejoin the show at NBC, where he produces “America’s Got Talent” and has an exclusive agreement.

One potential name that has been floated to join the revived series is that of Kelly Clarkson, the singer who won the first season of “Idol” and went on to achieve pop-star status with hits such as “Since U Been Gone.”

ABC, which works with FremantleMedia on “Celebrity Family Feud” and “Match Game,” took another look at “Idol” last month while mapping out contingency plans for a possible strike by the Writers Guild of America. Broadcast and cable networks in the weeks leading up to the strike devoted a significant amount of time and energy to exploring what unscripted programming could be greenlit or expanded in the event of a strike.

To land the show, ABC had to outbid Fox, which moved aggressively in recent weeks to bring the series back to its air. “Idol” ran on Fox for 15 seasons beginning in 2002. For eight consecutive seasons, beginning in 2003-04, it was the highest-rated show on television. At its peak in 2006, “American Idol” averaged a 12.4 rating among in the 18-49 demographic and 36.4 million total viewers, according to Nielsen live-plus-same day numbers.

Ratings began to decline steeply in the show’s later years, to the point that Fox decided that it no longer represented a worthwhile financial or scheduling commitment. (The series aired two nights a week, typically beginning in midseason.) The final season in 2016 averaged a 2.2 and 9.1 million viewers. Those numbers were far diminished from what the show drew in its heyday, but they remain respectable by contemporary standards, with delayed viewing and increased competition applying downward pressure on live ratings across television.

ABC is expected to announce the return of “Idol” this month at its upfront presentation in New York.

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    1. Wagner says:

      Idol failed do to the cute 10yr old,and judges drama
      Don’t make the same mistake

    2. Brenda Lee says:

      Yippee ki-yay ! So Excited , Can’t wait to watch the show again :)

    3. Adele Stiller says:

      Adam Lambert would be a fantastic judge

    4. ADAM LAMBERT! Can’t break a perfect record of him being on every season. ;) I can’t decide whether I would prefer him as the host or a judge.

    5. Bereft of Ideas, and Grasping at Straws, the ‘Media’ Sift through The Garbage.

    6. D says:

      Seacrest OUT …. Give someone New a chance at the Gig … surely there’s another Metrosexual in a Closet waiting to Come Out

    7. Phill says:

      Well I will say this, I was a huge fan of Idol, so for it to get revived again makes me a little iffy. Plus I auditioned for this show a few times in the past. If this show was to come back I need to see serious changes. For one the producers need to be more fair with who they let through to the next round, and stop these shenanigans of letting people on to only be made fun of and they need to strengthen those contracts up and put some tweaks in them. Once they fix that, then, MAYBE i’ll consider trying out again.

    8. ivan says:

      All those years and maybe 3-4 legitimate stars had careers afterwards.

      And face it, Underwood, Lambert, and Hudson would likely have made it without the show anyway.

      Time for these shows to end.

      • RS says:

        Not sure where you draw the line for ‘legitimate stars’ but a lot of former contestants have gone on to good careers much better than they’d have had otherwise – and the show could be extremely entertaining. Lots of great performances.


        Soon I. hope

    9. Hugh Janus says:

      Didn’t watch this crap on FOX, Definitely won’t watch it on ABC!! No more trash tv!

    10. Stephen Giorgis says:

      ESPN is Owned by the “Alphabet.”
      ESPN Has Monday Night Football, therefore the “Alphabet” does have an NFL Package.

      • lambertman says:

        Cool smart TV sages refer to ABC as the “alphabet” as many times as they can to be cool, smart

    11. AngryBlonde says:

      Won’t watch it there either………

    12. Sam Dennis says:

      The show began its downfall when they attempted to turn a ‘new talent competition’ into a variety show bringing in ‘celebrities’ when the audience wanted to see new talent.

    13. Let IDOL rest in peace, it had its day. Spare us from Ryan Seacrest.

    14. Debra says:

      I loved the show for several years but quit watching after Simon left. I gave it a shot but it lost all its appeal. This is going to be a financial disaster. I won’t be watching.

      • RS says:

        IF they could get the original judges back they’d have a good chance at success. If not, they’re wasting their time. Whether you think Simon Cowell is rude or whatever or not he is an excellent judge of talent. On Idol and Britain’s Got Talent he has correctly called some contestants future stars long before they won.

    15. Confused says:

      Why was Fox bidding to get it back when they just cancelled it last year?

    16. texasaaa says:

      American Idol was one of mine and my wife’s favorite shows!
      We love how the show tells the story of the young talent. That is what makes it different from all the other singing shows.
      Idol was the only singing show that we would watch and we never missed one episode as we recorded them if we had to.
      To be a true Idol show it must have Seacrest. Without him it is doomed for failure.
      Looking forward to the revival of Idol!

      • Sam Dennis says:

        Ryan “Dick Clark” Seacrest is involved in more crummy shows than one could care to shake a stick at. He will suffer from overexposure if he doesn’t stop!

    17. yukii007 says:

      ABC can only make it worse then it had become.

    18. ma says:

      ye3s…Simon Cowellis best thing to happen to music in 30 years….gave us a chance to see the raw auditions…and the raw performers before they became ” commercialized “

    19. Abe says:

      Nobody was watching and nobody cared. HOW ABC cures that is uncertain??

    20. Retrometa says:

      This crap show is spent. A revival is unwise as it will fall flat on its face. The mere fact that a mildly talented former contestant would be a judge is a further testament to the show having run(out) its course. And there were far too many blacks feautured like the ghetto dweller who “won” during her competition.

    21. Janny McNeil says:

      Without Cowell, it will never succeed.

    22. Sparky Mills says:

      It’s unfortunate that it is returning at all.

    23. Hugh Tjardon says:

      You can always rely on ABC for trash TV.

    24. I was so glad when that show ended. It was on three days a weeks and most of the contestant had zero talent.

    25. M says:

      Never watched it anyway, I don’t care what station it moves too

    26. If this comes-on as another leftist/liberal ‘showcase’, it’s doomed from the Start.

    27. Abbie Collins says:

      LOved Idol and so happy it’s returning. PLEASE keep it clean. Sunday night is a good night; so many Christians attend church on Wednesdays so Sunday is better. Bring back Simon and Keith Urban.

    28. lisacolorado says:

      Can we please have a competition that is not 95% hype and lights? Could the singers be judged on their own lights and not press-molded into someone else? Right, never mind.

    29. Dunstan says:

      Please. Spare the country from more of these inane, mind-numbing karaoke contests.

      • Yip Yap says:

        Don’t watch. I don’t watch most of anything on network TV. So, I don’t lose sleep over ‘inane’ shows…like the K-whatevers.

    30. Abel Garcia says:

      I hope Nicki Manaj and Mirah Carey are banned from judging permanently.

    31. BD says:

      Ryan Seacrest is that rare tv host that N E V E R missed a show. For 15 years he was always on air. That’s insane that nothing ever prevented him from showing up. It’s crazy. You think he won’t hop on a plane to go to L.A and be live on Idol? He’s a very hard working dude. I doubt ABC will have a problem letting him go one or two times a week from Kelly & Ryan to do Idol since it will also be their show now and he’s a big part of it.

      As for the others, JLo has a new dancing show which will mean two shows on NBC now, so she’s out. Randy will of course come back as he might have nothing else to do currently. Paula ended up getting crazier as time went by, so she’s out. Simon is too attached to NBC. I suppose Keith doesn’t have any links to any network right now and he was a great judge. So if they want to bring back people Ryan, Randy and Keith seem like good bets. The thought of Kelly joining doesn’t look that difficult.

    32. ragu4u says:

      This show is dead! Don’t make a ZOMBIE out of it. They just needed something to put on the tube if the writers strike. They don’t care if it’s any good or not.

      • Dunstan says:

        Ragu, I agree with you about this show and its genre. But the WGA never went out on strike this week; it was settled before the midnight deadline.

        Try and keep up. :D

    33. heyitsron says:

      Too bad there’s no Simon. Will never make it without Simon unless they get some hard hitting personalities like Blake or Adam. And definitely not with Fat Kelly. Really sorry the X Factor is gone. The real loser here is NBC. Don’t we all know not to put all your money on one horse? Apparently not the network who got rid of Jay and now wonder why the kid can’t keep up with Cold Bear. So let NBC keep shooting themselves in the foot. Remember when ratings meant profits? They still do.

    34. Jimmy Cricket says:

      The sole reason for the decline of the show was über leftist call diversity or anything but white. To everyday America diversity means different types of people from different areas, cultures and thoughts etc.
      Basically the show turned into a liberal show, a show about the first ____-American being on the show or winning. About the next single mother or child of a single mother, about immigrants. The typical narrative of the left for what is now American completely abandoning real Americans. So guess what, America tuned the heck out.

      If they want to truly represent American and get it right this time, they need to go back to the original formula. You can force crap down our throats and force us to watch crap and like it in our own homes.
      Gays represent less than 3% , blacks 13% etc. I should not be seeing a line up of majority of brown foreigners on American Idol. The more “diverse” the show got, the more the rating dropped and that includes the host.

    35. Duke Sweden says:

      And this, folks, is what is meant by the cliche “Beating a dead horse”.

    36. Sansiray Norfleet says:

      Yes! Bring it back

    37. Ra says:

      Kelly Clarkson?

    38. Ken May says:

      FOX, ABC, CNN, CIA… What’s the difference?

    39. Belinda says:

      Ryan is too busy in new york. Bring Adam Lambert on board as host or a judge

    40. Lulu says:

      NOBODY CARES. Just CANCEL the damn show.

    41. Adam says:

      Using “the Alphabet” to refer to ABC is very confusing. Alphabet is Google, which owns Youtube.

    42. ArtWvandelay says:

      What a great idea…wasn’t Happy Days on ABC when Fonzi “jumped the shark”?!?

    43. Geo Rubik says:

      Maybe it should be on AMC and merge story lines with “The Walking Dead”.

    44. RealityCheck says:

      There’s no reason Idol can’t move to New York City and thrive away from LA. Frankly, NY offers it a fresh platform and Broadway’s musical roots could benefit the show as well.

    45. Gailer says:

      Abc needs to get Ryan on board ! Randy Paula and Kelly would be great as judges

    46. Eric says:

      If we’re to see a newly revived American Idol in ABC… no telling whether production would remain in Los Angeles at CBS Television City or a different studio location, or be relocated to New York City area. If production was relocated to NYC, I could see the JC Studios in the Brooklyn borough (used to house production of former daytime soaps Another World and As the World Turns, if it’s not booked with anything else), or Grumman Studios in nearby Bethpage, New York (over in Long Island, which housed first 3 NBC live musical productions a couple years ago) being ideal, or maybe nearby Stamford, Connecticut. Ryan Seacrest now co-hosting Live, alongside Kelly Ripa, but don’t know whether he’d be involved or interested in coming back. Don’t know whether any of the former judges, including J-Lo, Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson, and Keith Urban would be interested in returning. I doubt we’d see Simon Cowell, Harry Connick, Jr., Mariah Carey, and others interested in coming back.

      • Cap says:

        Paula was a big reason for the show’s decline. Bring that has-been back, and it will be doomed…

    47. No, please no, no more American Idol. Let it rest in peace.

    48. Allie says:

      Please….no one cares. Take it off the air !

    49. First Last says:

      I hope they don’t repeat the first mistake they made: Airing it.

    50. SMS says:

      I hope they don’t make the same two mistakes that killed it in the first place. When it first premiered it was a family show. It was a show that I could enjoy with my 90-year-old aunt, and then later fight about the merits of Ruben Studdard with. Every week the family, and extended family, would argue about that nights episode before phoning in our votes.

      Mistake #1 – They stopped using phone numbers to vote. That was the end of watching with my 90-year-old aunt and other family members. In one move, FOX managed to uninvite millions of people and let them know they were too old to participate like they always had before, with a simple phone vote. Nobody in my house over 25 was going to vote with any other voting method. The family tradition of rushing to the phone to vote, while arguing over who deserved it, was over. That was the season my Aunt and most of the extended family stopped watching. Apparently from the ratings, so did millions of others.

      Mistake #2 – They started to limit casting to only cute, young, potential pop stars. (Pop-pop, rock-pop, country-pop, alternative-pop, diva-pop, hip-hop-pop, etc.) The show became something that Ruben Studdard, as well as many other early favorites, would no longer be able to get on. Contestants were now all just generic cute, young, pop singers. Yawn.

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