That was quick! American Idol only just went off the air in 2016. Now, the show is roaring back to life. Only this time, it's going to be on a different network. Which could bring some big changes.
ABC currently has a deal in place with FremantleMedia and Core Media Group to revive American Idol, which proved to be a ratings power house on Fox for 15 seasons. ABC and the producers have locked into a framework for an agreement that would bring the singing competition back to the airwaves. If everything goes as planned, American Idol will be back up and running for a March 2018 premiere.
Ryan Seacrest, who hosted all 15 seasons of American Idol, is being eyed to return to his position. But his participation hasn't been decided yet. Seacrest just recently signed a deal to appear as the new co-host of ABC's live morning show opposite Kelly Ripa. And he is relocating New York for the gig. American Idol has always shot in Los Angeles, and it doesn't sound like there is a plan in place to change that aspect of the reality series.
ABC has not yet closed its American Idol deal. They originally passed on the initial pitch for the show revival when it was being shopped around earlier this year, with NBC picking up the baton from Fox. That deal fell through, as a minimum 25-hour order was wanted by FremantleMedia. NBC decided against that, believing that American Idol would cause too much of a competition with its own singing reality series The Voice. NBC was also turned off by the high asking price for the dormant show.
The ABC deal prevents original American Idol judge Simon Cowell from appearing on the show. Cowell has an agreement with NBC, where his series America's Got Talent continues to bring in big ratings. He was considering a return to the Idol judge's seat when the show was being set up for its return at NBC.
Original Idol contestant and winner of the first season Kelly Clarkson is in the running for a judge's seat on ABC's revival. But no deal is in place for that to happen just yet. ABC began looking at American Idol once again while it was trying to map out a contingency plan for the possible Writers Guild of America strike that didn't happen. In the weeks leading up to the possible strike, all of the networks were hurrying to lockdown unscripted programming that they could launch in case the strike became a reality.
ABC actually outbid Fox, who was aggressively trying to get the show back for themselves. The show premiered on Fox in 2002, and from 2003-2004 it was the highest rated series on TV. The reality program reached its peak in 2006, bringing in a 12.4 rating share among the 18-49 age demographic and 36.4 million total viewers.
American Idol's ratings began to slip in later years, with quite a few different celerities revolving in and out of the judge's chairs, with Simon Cowell having long left the series by the time it all ended in 2016. Idol's final season only averaged a 2.2 rating share with 9.1 million viewers. That was a big drop after a decade had passed. ABC hopes to build the show back up into a ratings powerhouse. It is expected that ABC will announce the official return of American Idol at its upfront presentation in New York later this month.