10:04am PT by Michael O'Connell
Fox Hopes to Find 'Idol' Successor in New Singing Show 'The Four'
Broadcast will soon be flush with singing competitions once again. After considering a resurrection of American Idol earlier this year, Fox has decided to launch a new talent search. The network on Tuesday announced that it has ordered The Four (working title).
Billed The Final Four in Israel, the format (from Armoza Formats and ITV Entertainment) offers its tweak on the traditional talent search by skipping to the finalists. Each week, the top four will sing against challengers to retain their slots on the show. A panel of music experts and personalities, which has yet to be cast, will choose the original finalists from auditions and, ultimately, help shepherd the winner's career. The project has been in development at the network since earlier this summer.
News of The Four follows the February appointment of new head of alternative programming Rob Wade and brief negotiations in winter and spring to revive former flagship American Idol. The property ultimately went to ABC, where it is set to return early next year. In May, Fox TV Group chairman and CEO Dana Walden called the loss a "tough one" but said she ultimately felt that reviving the show so soon after a $25 million marketing campaign to hype its final season felt “extremely fraudulent."
American Idol made Fox the No. 1 network on TV for the better part of a decade. Even in its humbled final season, the series drove 11.5 million viewers on a weekly basis — eyeballs that have not been duplicated, save for drama Empire. Fox has also been quite reliant on scripted programming since Idol's exit, and both Walden and fellow CEO and chairman Gary Newman had expressed their desire to find a new reality flagship to help fill scheduling real estate.
Another twist in The Four is the viewer engagement portion. Challengers to the final four's status enter online with an audition video. Audience votes put the new challengers on the show, which could offer the kind of engagement previous reality competitions — see ABC's short-lived Rising Star; NBC's Million Second Quiz — have sought and ultimately failed at.
The order puts even more pressure on ABC's American Idol and NBC veteran The Voice. Come 2018, three singing competitions will be on U.S. airwaves — though Walden, shortly after the announcement, stressed that a concurrent run was unlikely.