If you stumbled upon the American Idol reboot and wondered, “Why is American Idol back?” You’re not alone. The singing reality competition show had a grand (and memorable) farewell season in 2016 after running for 15 seasons on Fox. It was a success, for most of its run, but due to rapidly dropping ratings the network decided to nix the show. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, ABC announced they obtained the rights and were reviving the show with new judges and a new ho… just kidding, of course, Ryan Seacrest came back. So, how did this head-scratching reboot happen anyway?
According to BuzzFeed News, Fox planned to bring Idol back in the future — just not one season after airing the “final” season. “It feels sad that it’s coming back on another network,” co-CEO and chair of Fox Television Group Dana Walden explained. “We spent about $25 million sending a clear and persistent message that it was the farewell season and fans responded and the ratings picked back up.”
According to Dana, FremantleMedia, the production company behind Idol, saw the ratings increase as encouragement to return immediately with another season, but Fox disagreed. “It felt to us sitting in those initial meetings with Fremantle like it would be extremely fraudulent to bring the show back quickly — that our fans would not appreciate being told one thing and then have the show brought back right away,” she continued. A bidding war ensued and despite Fox’s attempt to sell Fremantle on the idea of bringing the show back in 2020 — the production company ultimately decided to sign with ABC.
“From where we sit, we feel like it’s the perfect time to bring the series back,” ABC President Channing Dungey revealed about bringing back Idol. She said the competition is about “heartfelt, uplifting stories of people who make their dreams come true and that’s our sweet spot at ABC. That makes it feel like the perfect home at the perfect time… This is going to be ABC’s version of American Idol.” She added, “It’s going to have a very clear ABC hallmark and brand on it.”
But, are fans as open to the idea of the reboot? Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan made their judging debut on the season premiere which aired March 12. The show was met with its lowest-rated season premiere ever, falling 23 percent from its previous season premiere on Fox, according to Entertainment Weekly. However, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a bust for ABC. The network had its best Sunday in almost six years — Idol was Sunday’s No. 1 show among viewers and adults 18-49 demographic.
Following the episode, fan reaction on Twitter has been mixed. Some fans still feel nostalgic for the OG Idol, while others are welcoming a fresh change for the show.
American Idol will never be the same unless they bring back Simon, Paula and Randy
— Erin Beattie (@erin_beatts10) March 13, 2018
I can’t believe American Idol won’t die.
— Rev. Leon Lonnie Love (@_StuntmanJet_) March 13, 2018
— Lily Marston (@lily_marston) March 13, 2018
An obvious draw to the reboot is that the entertaining “Bon Appétit” singer is front and center throughout the show. “Honestly, I’m seeing why #AmericanIdol paid Katy Perry $25M. She’s really kind of fantastic so far,” one viewer tweeted. Another added, “Katy Perry is telling it how it is and I’m here for it. #AmericanIdol.”
Maybe, Idol‘s return was a tad premature. But, it’s possible the reason why fans fell in love with the franchise in the first place will give it a successful future on ABC.