Ryan Seacrest Inks 4-Year Deal to Host ABC's 'New Year's Rockin' Eve' (Exclusive)

The news comes as Seacrest's name is being bandied about to replace Michael Strahan on ABC's 'Live!'
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New Year's Rockin' Eve

Ryan Seacrest is staying put at ABC.

The prolific producer and host has inked a new deal to continue fronting the network's long-running ball-drop special, New Year's Rockin' Eve, for four more years. The pact also keeps Seacrest within the Disney fold as industry rumors swirl that he could be a contender for Michael Strahan's slot on ABC's Live! With Kelly and Michael, though ABC brass is said to be waiting for the dust to settle before making any decisions about a replacement.

Insiders point to Seacrest's proven skill set as a morning host (albeit on the radio) as well as his rapport with Ripa. (He has been a frequent guest on Live!, and together he and Ripa have co-hosted the Disney parade for ABC.) What's more, for the first time in 15 years, the former American Idol emcee's schedule has eased up considerably. What's unlikely, however, is seeing Seacrest — or any other true A-lister in contention — partake in the inevitable parade of guest hosts that will follow Strahan's mid-May exit.

To be sure, a New York-based a.m. talk show would require a major logistical reshuffling, as Seacrest currently fronts a multi-hour daily radio show out of Los Angeles. He also has a series of other high-profile commitments, including hosting duties for red-carpet specials on E! and a late-night live show at the Summer Olympics in Rio for NBC. He has a collection of scripted (Shades of Blue) and unscripted (Keeping Up With the Kardashians) shows that he produces through his eponymous Ryan Seacrest Productions as well.

As for his long-standing role at ABC, Rockin' Eve currently is the priority. The news of him re-upping comes some two years after Dick Clark Productions and ABC extended its deal to broadcast the special, which regularly beats its time-slot competition, for another 10 years. The net's 2015 coverage reached nearly 60 million viewers over the course of the night, up 16 percent from a year earlier. Among the coveted 18-49 demo, the special, which featured 38 musical performances, was up 19 percent.

"Ryan has been a great partner, and together we have managed to set record ratings for New Year's Rockin' Eve while continuing the tradition of the show being the place to be on New Year's Eve in America," Dick Clark Productions CEO Allen Shapiro said in a statement, with ABC's senior vp alternative programming, specials and late night Robert Mills adding of the franchise: "[It's] a perennial ratings success, and Ryan has seamlessly helmed this show for over a decade. He is a most worthy successor to Dick's legacy."

Seacrest auditioned for the late Clark a little more than a decade ago and has been a key part of the annual event ever since. For many of those years, the two hosted the countdown spectacle together, with Seacrest also serving as an executive producer. "Being in Times Square on New Year's remains one of my favorite moments of the year — it's live, it's loud, exhilarating and sentimental all at the same time," noted Seacrest. "We've managed to create an entertaining five-hour spectacle that involves a lot of spontaneity from the huge crowd, as well as stellar performances from the biggest music stars of the year. Bringing all of this to millions of Americans' living rooms is a privilege, and I'll never take that for granted."

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