'American Idol' Revival Poised to Move Forward at ABC

The Disney-owned network has emerged as the home for the reality competition series, though a formal deal is not yet in place.
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'American Idol'

There appears to be a victor in the multiple-network competition for American Idol.

ABC has emerged as the likely home for the revival of the reality competition series, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed. Sources caution that a deal is not in place yet, and ABC and producers FremantleMedia and Core Media Group all declined comment.

ABC emerged as the front-runner to land Idol earlier this week, though Fox — the show's home for 15 seasons — was said to still be in the mix. NBC, which also put in an offer for the show earlier this year, was out of the bidding. Sources note that while ABC does not have a signed deal, the Disney-owned network has established the "framework for a deal" for the show. A formal announcement is expected to come at the network's May 16 upfront presentation to ad buyers.

Should the American Idol deal close, it's unclear which, if any, judges will return or if Ryan Seacrest — who recently relocated to New York to co-host ABC's Live — would continue on with the reality hit.

Few in reality thought American Idol was gone for good when Fox shut it down after 15 seasons in 2016, but a broadcast return this soon seemed unlikely. Still, Fremantle has been aggressive in trying to find a new home for the once-global franchise.

The return of American Idol back on the Big Four is a bit of a head-scratcher. It was a shell of its former self when it finally wrapped up, averaging a 3.0 rating among adults 18-49 and 11 million viewers in its final season. Those numbers, which include time-shifting, are actually pretty good by most standards — though not by the ones the show was held up against. American Idol came with an incredible price tag for Fox, which had to pay astronomical salaries to talent — most notably to Seacrest and judge Jennifer Lopez.

Show creator Simon Fuller has never been shy about his desire to place American Idol elsewhere. As soon as the show ended, the prolific producer was already talking about how it would likely look different when it eventually returned. "There are loads of ideas being shared, and I’m deep in thought about how we can evolve Idol," he told THR last year. "We debuted at the very beginning of the digital world. So the next generation of Idol will be a lot more interactive, a lot more immersive."

Seacrest was also optimistic when he spoke with THR in 2016. "I just don't see a world where Idol doesn't resurface," he said. "We look at formats. We try to create shows. It's hard to believe that franchise doesn't resurface in some capacity, in some form, soon."

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