ABC to Revive ‘American Idol’

by Cate Lecuyer Marian  |  05.09.2017

Too soon?

That was the reaction of American Idol executive producer Nigel Lythgoe in response to ABC’s plans to revive the series just 13 months after it ended its 15-season run on Fox.

“They got their wish, but it feels a little too soon to bring it back,” he told Variety.

ABC announced Tuesday, ahead of its May 16 upfront presentation, that it secured the rights to revive “television’s most successful and recognized music competition series for the 2017-2018 season…” the network said in a press release.

American Idol is a pop-culture staple that left the air too soon,” ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey said 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 show will air alongside a lineup of “addictive fan favorites” that includes Dancing with the Stars and The Bachelor.

The news comes after months of speculation about whether the series would return to TV sets.

From the moment it launched in 2003, Idol remained the highest rated show on television, drawing 36.4 million viewers at its peak in 2006, and averaging a 12.4 rating among the 18-49-year-old demographic. Even in the later seasons as ratings dropped from their previous levels, the series remained a powerhouse. The final season drew 11.5 million viewers and averaged a 3.0 rating among adults 18-49.

RELATED: How ‘American Idol’ Changed Pop Culture

While viewership has never been a problem, high costs—such as location shooting for auditions and in the contestants’ hometowns, and salaries for judges such as Mariah Carey and Jennifer Lopez—who were paid more than $15 million each—contributed to the end of the show on Fox, Lythgoe told Variety.

Yet he commended ABC for taking it on:

“I’m delighted for them if they bring it back, and I’m looking forward to seeing it again. Hopefully they find some new angles for Idol.”

A host and judges will be announced at a later time, ABC says.

There’s also the possibility some on-camera personalities could return, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Host Ryan Seacrest—who was just hired to co-host Live! alongside Kelly Rippa, gave a cryptic “goodbye for now” when he signed off Idol in 2016, and had joked that Idol could return to his new daytime show.

Lythgoe, for his part, says he has not been contacted about the revival. FremantleMedia North America and 19 Entertainment, a part of CORE Media Group, will continue to produce the show, with Trish Kinane and Jennifer Mullin serving as executive producers.

”ABC’s passion and enthusiasm make them a perfect home for American Idol,” FremantleMedia CEO said in a statement “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.”

READ MORE: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter

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