Seacrest signs two-year ‘Idol’ extension

Host to earn $15 million per year

Ryan Seacrest has reached a deal to extend his run as host of Fox’s “American Idol” for the next two years, the network confirmed.

The host will earn $15 million per year to continue at the Fox series, which isn’t as dominant as it once was but is still a crucial piece of the Fox schedule. “Idol” is produced by FremantleMedia North America.

The deal essentially keeps his salary even with what he was making under his previous three-year deal.

“For the last 11 seasons, I’ve had the privilege to be a part of one of television’s most iconic shows. It’s been a wild ride, and I’m excited for my journey with ‘American Idol’ to continue,” Seacrest said.

Deal comes as Seacrest is negotiating a separate pact with NBCUniversal. While that deal is not yet completed, it’s already been announced he’s covering Olympics for NBC in July.

Seacrest’s current deal was scheduled to expire at the end of the current season, his 11th as host.

While the judges panel at “Idol” has weathered its share of changes over the year, Seacrest has been a constant at “Idol” since the beginning.

Losing him could have been a challenge for Fox as the network struggles to keep the series vital for the long term.

While still TV’s No. 1 series, “Idol” is down about 30% in the ratings among viewers 18-49. Just over 20 million total viewers tune in every Wednesday, and an additional 19 million on Thursday.

As early as January, Fox indicated its interest in keeping Seacrest in “Idol.” “I think everyone has come to realize the value of Ryan Seacrest,” said Fox programming chief Kevin Reilly at the network’s TCA presentation. “We certainly want to keep him.”

“I am thrilled that Ryan will continue to be the face of ‘American Idol,’ said Cecile Frot-Coutaz, the steward of “Idol” for Fremantle who last week was upped from head of its North American wing to CEO of parent company. “He is one of the best in the business and we are lucky to have him.”

While Seacrest’s deal with NBCU has yet to be completed, it is expected to be a multifaceted pact encompassing everything from his work at E!, where he is host of “E! News Daily,” to his shingle, Ryan Seacrest Prods., which has several series on air across NBCU’s networks. Bravo recently ordered a second season of Seacrest-produced “Shahs of Sunset.”

Seacrest was rumored to be up for the anchor post at NBC’s “Today” while the morning show was in negotiations with current longtime anchor Matt Lauer. But Lauer signed a multi-year extension with “Today” earlier this month for a reported $25 million per annum.