How does ABC plan to make money off of the expensive-to-produce American Idol when it returns to television next spring? Disney’s chief of ad sales tells Variety that the network is “thinking about Idol in a different way.”
ABC hopes to shake up the ad model behind the series, which is slated to return to the airwaves with Katy Perry as one of its panel of judges. And while the Disney-owned network expects traditional sponsors to appear in the show, it’s also pitching Madison Avenue on a new way to get involved.
“We are thinking about ‘Idol’ in a different way,” said Rita Ferro, president of ad sales for Disney/ABC Television Group, in an interview. “It’s really being driven by social involvement and how we can continue the storylines from the show throughout the week.” ABC is pitching advertisers to attach themselves to video related to “Idol” that is distributed digitally on days when the linear show is not on the air.
Disney said Thursday that advertisers committed 20% more on digital ad inventory associated with Disney/ABC Television Group in this year’s upfront ad-sales market than they did in 2016.
“We really want to make sure the right partners are involved” with “Idol,” said Ferro, who suggested ABC will seek ad partners who will consider new ways to reach a “community” around the show through a variety of experiences.
Variety notes that in the 2011-2012 TV season, the average cost of a 30-second ad in the Wednesday-night of American Idol was $502,000. By 2016’s “farewell season” a 30-second spot came to just $151,245.
And in other news: A source tells the New York Post that Ryan Seacrest is still hammering out his deal to host the American Idol reboot. But don’t expect an official announcement this week.
“I’m assuming it’s money, but he is returning. He was such an important part of that show and has been the main constant forever,” a source told us.
Another source rolled their eyes that money is the holdup, but said it is imminent. “There’s a multitude of issues still being discussed. Ryan, of course, has a great affection for the show. It’s still an active negotiation. But nothing is going to be announced right now. Everyone’s going away on vacation.”