It’s official: ABC has acquired American Idol from its production companies, and the show will return in 2018, according to the network. No hosts or judges were announced today.
The language in the press release suggests the show may not undergo massive changes in its format, saying thatABC, FremantleMedia North America, and 19 Entertainment “will revive” the show. And ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey said “American Idol is a pop-culture staple that left the air too soon. 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.”
However, Ben Sherwood, Disney/ABC’s president, says we should “get ready for the return of a bigger, bolder and better-than-ever Idol.”
Neither of those sound quite like creator Simon Fuller’s plan to “revamp” the show and create “a new version.”
And yes, I’m reading into press release quotes written by publicists because that’s all the information we have right now.
Idol: back in 2018, as promised
Two years ago, when the show went off the air, Ryan Seacrest said it was only going away “for now,” and just recently, Simon Fuller said at the Emmys, “see you in 2018.” Both were telling the truth.
While the press release says the show will return in the 2017-2018 season, the official American Idol web site says 2018, which lines up with reports that ABC is thinking about a March 2018 return.
The show’s return makes sense for a number of reasons, one of which is cited in ABC’s press release: its ratings. The final season was one of the year’s top-3 shows. Fox cancelled it not because of ratings, though they were in decline, but because it was too expensive, especially its host and judges’ salaries.
And it’s a natural fit with ABC—it’s the American Broadcasting Company, after all. Plus, there’s already been corporate synergy. The press release notes that “American Idol has already been a beloved part of the Disney|ABC family, with The American Idol Experience taking residence at Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park for five years.”
That Disney’s Hollywood Studios attraction closed three years ago, and six months earlier than announced. Maybe it, too, will come back from the dead.