‘American Idol’: ABC Confirms Plan to Revive Talent Competition Series

American Idol finale
Courtesy of Fox

ABC is the official new home of “American Idol.”

The broadcaster revealed Tuesday morning on “Good Morning America” that it has given a greenlight to a 16th season of the long-running music competition. The series order ends not only a process that saw multiple networks explore bringing the reality franchise to their air, but also a briefer-than-anticipated absence for a show that just a year ago celebrated its “farewell season.”

“GMA” anchors Robin Roberts and George Stephanopoulos offered few details about the planned revival. They said details such as the show’s host and judging panel were still to be determined, and there’s no word yet about a showrunner.

“America, get ready for the return of a bigger, bolder and better-than-ever ‘Idol,’ ” Disney/ABC TV Group president Ben Sherwood promised.

As rumors of “Idol’s” move to ABC spread, there’s been speculation about whether Ryan Seacrest would be able to return as host. Seacrest earlier this month was named permanent co-host of the “Live with Kelly and Ryan” syndicated morning show, in addition to hosting his daily radio program. “Live” is distributed by Disney, which could make it easier for Seacrest to juggle an obligation to another ABC program.

“ ‘American Idol’ is a pop-culture staple that left the air too soon,” said Channing Dungey, president of ABC Entertainment, in a statement. “ABC is the right home to reignite the fan base. We are thrilled viewers will once again share in these inspiring stories of people realizing their dreams.”

The new-model “Idol” comes from FremantleMedia North America and Core Media Group’s 19 Entertainment. Executive producers include FremantleMedia North America’s Trish Kinane and Jennifer Mullin.

”ABC’s passion and enthusiasm make them a perfect home for ‘American Idol,’ ” said Cecile Frot-Coutaz, CEO of FremantleMedia Group. “We are excited to be partnering with them to discover the next generation of talented artists. It’s an irresistible combination that means now is the ideal time to welcome back one of the most successful shows in the history of contemporary television.”

ABC emerged as the leading candidate to bring back “Idol” in recent weeks, and by Friday had a deal in place with producers FremantleMedia and Core Media Group to lock up the show. That framework for an agreement withstood a last-second bid by Fox, which aggressively pursued the pricey series that it had canceled a year earlier. Fox was rebuffed, and by Friday evening ABC and FremantleMedia were in exclusive negotiations, putting the finishing touches on the deal.

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Ryan Seacrest

Ryan Seacrest on ‘American Idol’ Revival: ‘I Don’t Know if I Can Host It’

As negotiations entered their final stages Friday, ABC was already mulling scheduling options, with insiders telling Variety at the time that the show was primed for a March 2018 premiere and would likely air on Sunday nights.

When Fremantle and Core began shopping “Idol” earlier this year, NBC at first emerged as the most likely home for the show. But the Peacock walked away from talks, worried about the series’ costs and its potential negative effect on existing singing-competition series “The Voice.”

“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 in the 18-49 demographic and 36.4 million total viewers.

Ratings declined steeply in the show’s later years, to the point that Fox decided that “Idol” 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.

“All of the intense ‎speculation surrounding the comeback of ‘American Idol’ demonstrates just how popular and powerful this brand remains,” said Peter Hurwitz, CEO of Core Media Group. “ABC shares our belief in the enduring value of ‘Idol’ and will provide us with the perfect new home to showcase the gold standard of singing competition shows.”

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  1. Marguerite Ford says:

    I am so delighted American Idol will be returning for Season 16. I never missed a show or if I had too, I recorded it for when I could watch it. I strongly believe that a big reason for the few years when ratings were down, was due to the time when there was a big change in the judges. Talking with my sister, we both agreed this was a big problem. Especially when two female judges were at “odds” with each other. When this happened, I would just check my -e mail or messages etc. You have to have a select group of judges that will work well with each other and the Idol Contestants. Hope to see Ryan Seacrest back as well. I will be watching for future announcements. Thank you ABC for your showing this wonderful program.

  2. Charlotte says:

    I’m sooo happy American Idol is coming back! I missed it so much I kept the recording of the last show (which had all the past winners performing) on my TV until I had to change DVRs.

  3. Dunstan says:

    There is no such things as a “bolder” version of a show that is coma-inducing.

  4. Jacques Strappe says:

    Ughh. Former ABC President, Paul Lee wisely declared that the network was finished with singing competition shows after the failure of Rising Star a few years ago. Apparently, the new president begs to differ. The Voice is showing big ratings declines each year and is no longer a bit hit. American Idol whimpered off FOX toward the end of its run. Only grandmas watch this crap, not the desired 18-34 y/o demographic sought by advertisers. The state of network television is an ugly mess fraught with so much uncertainty that will only messier and more uncertain moving forward.

  5. Daniel B says:

    WHAT??? Not again.

  6. Michael Tinajero says:

    For the Love of God , just let it die already ,don’t you have any fresh ideas?

  7. 1Ronald says:

    “Ryan Seacrest on ‘American Idol’ Revival: ‘I Don’t Know if I Can Host It’” Or as the girl with me yelled out to a dude walking (with many others) to the campus cafeteria “Come on and beg for it. Like you did last night.”

  8. Granted says:

    Gag me

  9. Bob says:

    ABC is the perfect place for Idol, the Disney marketing across several entertainment platforms makes it an ideal place for the music throughout the season to be disseminated and a huge advantage over the other networks when it comes to promoting the eventual winner. Back when tv and idol could have tens of millions tuning in the marketing took care of itself but into todays fractured viewing it’s needed, there is a reason The Voice has never produced even one major star, the show is great for promoting its judges but drops the ball with the winners. ABC / Disney will make sure that doesn’t happen.

    Seacrest seems like he is energetic enough to handle two hosting duties plus again the Live cross promotion is perfect for marketing. A Hollywood / New York plus even a Midwest/ Southern city combination of locations once it settles into its Live portion of the season would generate even more interest.

  10. Stang119 says:

    How desperate for ABC. The body isn’t even cold yet!

  11. ravengirl57 says:

    As a former Idol fan, I say let it go. It had a good run. Let it go.

  12. Amethyst says:

    As an Idol fan from the beginning, I’d love to see this come to New York to give the east coast contestants ample opportunity. I would also love to see Ryan Seacrest come back for hosting duties. Just saying…

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