10:14am PT by Lacey Rose
Ryan Seacrest Inks Deal to Return to 'American Idol'
American Idol is locking down talent for its upcoming 14th season.
The long-running singing competition series is bringing back its most enduring face, host Ryan Seacrest. The news follows an on-air announcement Wednesday that Fox’s reality flagship would be returning, and the upcoming season’s audition circuit would include stops in the judges’ hometowns. (All three judges, Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr., are expected to return, though a formal announcement has not been made.)
Despite earlier reports of Seacrest’s looming departure, he had no plans of exiting the show that he’s been a part of since its premiere more than a decade ago. Though juggling his schedule grows increasingly challenging given a résumé that includes radio, producing, television, iHeart and investor responsibilities, he has remained loyal to the series that catapulted him to fame. Seacrest will be at the Fox upfront Monday to show his dedication to the franchise.
His new pact spans two years, according to sources; and while Idol has not yet been granted a 15th season, it likely will be at this time next year. To be sure, given Idol's continued — and dramatic — ratings erosion, it would not be surprising to see still more tweaks made to other parts of the show, be it in the show’s scheduling or its on-air format. Despite strong chemistry and the kind of name recognition competition shows rely on, Idol has seen its viewership drop double digits this season, with a May 7 episode averaging only a 1.7 rating in the all-important adults 18-49 demographic.