NBC in Talks to Revive ‘American Idol’ (EXCLUSIVE)

NBC in Talks to Revive 'American

NBC is in talks with FremantleMedia to resurrect “American Idol,” Variety has learned.

According to sources with knowledge of the discussions, NBC has been pitched a revival of the long-running singing competition by producer Fremantle and is now mulling options for how to integrate the show into its programming slate. One possibility being considered: cutting NBC’s existing singing competition “The Voice” from two cycles a year to one.

Fremantle has been shopping an “Idol” revival in recent weeks, with NBC emerging as the leading candidate to become the new home of the long-running singing-competition series. Sources emphasize that talks are ongoing, and no deal is yet in place.

Representatives for NBC and Fremantle declined to comment.

“American 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.

An “American Idol” revival has been a subject of speculation since before the final season aired on Fox last year. Speaking at the Television Critics Association winter press tour in 2016, longtime host Ryan Seacrest discussed the show’s future even as he promoted what Fox had dubbed the “farewell season.”

“When you’ve got a franchise that has this kind of heritage and you’ve got a franchise that generates X amount of millions of people, if it sustains, does that mean it’s the end?” Seacrest said. “I’m not so sure.”

“The Voice,” currently in its seventh year, has shown its own ratings fatigue — even as it remains NBC’s most watched non-football offering beside freshman drama “This Is Us.” The 2016 fall cycle, which ended Dec. 12, averaged a 2.5 live-plus-same day rating among adults 18-49, according to Nielsen overnight numbers — down 19% from the previous fall.

From a scheduling standpoint, it could be difficult for NBC to find a place for “American Idol” without making changes to its existing unscripted slate. NBC’s schedule is already loaded with talent competitions year-round, with “The Voice” premiering new cycles in fall and mid-season, and “America’s Got Talent” — produced by original “American Idol” judge Simon Cowell — reigning as the network’s biggest draw in summer. In July, NBC gave a series order to “World of Dance,” a dance competition series from another former “American Idol” judge, Jennifer Lopez, which has not yet been scheduled.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 22

Leave a Reply


Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. sue says:

    I miss my Idol.

  2. Lisa says:

    Best song ever was by Caleb Johnson, Faithfully. That still gives me chills!! Loved this show!!

  3. gpxo says:

    Please God make it (Voice/American Idol) stop!!!

  4. To NBC says:

    NBCs problem is forgetting a basic fact. Young people do not watch TV. So when they try to bring Miley to “boost” ratings, all they got was pissed and disgusted viewers abandoning the show. She is the only person ever had their own News blocker addon for web browsers. People are that disgusted by her “shows” and did not even want to see her name. And now NBC execs blame everyone else but Miley for GIANT drop in the ratings compared to Gwen Stefani’s season 9. Ratings will suck as long as she is part of the voice. You can count on that.

  5. joyce knight says:

    Idol has been a favorite with so many of us (senior citizens) Many winners and others in the show have had wonderful career opportunities. Bring it back!!!!!!We will be watching.

  6. Patricia Jicha says:

    NBC has a four hour hole on Sunday after football season. This is exactly when new Idol seasons began.

  7. Southern Gal says:

    The voice ratings were down %19 percent because of Miley. And yet NBC dropped Blake Shelton? Coach with the most wins, jokes and fans. They should have kept him in better moods by bringing back Gwen on season 11 instead they blindsided him so chemistry was off. S11 was down because of those 2 reasons. And they think all those fans wont punish them even more after s12 if they do any of these?

    NBC is run by morons.

  8. aerotica69 says:

    Why does NBC hate its viewers?

  9. Deidre says:

    I would watch American Idol no matter what channel it was on….i think it is the best show ever on tv. I miss every judge on it…they are fantastic. Think of all the people whose lives have changed because of American Idol. I could watch this show every night and never have enough.

  10. Steven kurth says:

    They should bring back America idol was one of the best shows on tv.

  11. Richard says:

    Smart move by NBC if it cuts Voice down to once a year. Idol was huge because it was a once a year event, Voice is twice a year as DWTS so as a viewer I don’t feel compelled to watch faithfully each season. By bringing Idol to NBC they also won’t have to face it as a competitor on another network. I agree with others that while Voice may be entertaining it has yet to have a hit act while Idol in its hay day ruled the charts and this does seem to be because the Voice format highlights the judges at the expense of the artist.

  12. I wonder if they will bring it back as a teen competition. The trend lately in TV has been competitions featuring talented teens & kids.

  13. David says:

    I would rather see The X Factor coming back on another channel instead of American Idol.

  14. Jayne Scott says:

    Please don’t cut back on “The Voice” episodes. I think it is by far the best of all the singing competitions. The mentors are the secret of the success these singers have to boost their popularity. There are lots of other shows that would not be missed if you need a time slot.

  15. Dunstan says:

    First, just call it what it is: a game show. Second, we don’t need this to be “revived.” It had its day, time to move on. These talent contest shows couldn’t be more mind-numbing.

    Just another indication of the further decline of traditional network TV.

  16. Amy D Jones says:

    Well, first of all, I’m excited to hear about a new dance competition, just as long as it’s not focused on kids. I already adore So You Think You Can Dance, but I can make room for another dance competition show if it merits my attention. In my opinion, I don’t think 2 singing competition shows would be good for NBC, although I loved Idol and watched every season. I wish The Voice would go away, it has never held my interest. Idol definitely had its problems though. Actually I think Idol should be given a “rest” for a few years before it is brought back. Then it could come back fresh and roaring.

  17. Michael Erickson says:

    I’d say maybe the producer should check with ABC if they might be interested in a revival of American Idol because The Voice is enough for NBC to have!

  18. Laurel Lane says:

    Actually, I think American Idol is a better choice than The Voice. At least we actually got some real talent from American Idol (Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Daughtry) – I can’t name one winner of The Voice. The Voice seems to be all about the judges and the singers are just a byline. A singing competition should be about the contestants, not the judges.

  19. Ruth Deutsch says:

    I think The Voice is on just a little too often. I think we need 5 – 6 months of away time to miss it and welcome it back. Programmers screw up by overdoing “a good thing”. Idol? They’d have to make major changes because the format got stale. I’d prefer to see “America’s Got Idol” one summer and see how that works. I think it’s possible to incorporate the 2 together maybe???

  20. Let this dead horse RIP.

  21. Leon says:

    haven’t you done enough to ruin music?!

  22. Jake says:

    JFC. Hollywood really is void of any sort of new ideas.

More TV News from Variety