TMZ had reported that FOX jumped into the fray with a huge offer to lure American Idol away from ABC. The Hollywood reporter reported that Freemantle/Core was hesitant to resign with the network that cancelled them.
Now, FOX tells their side of the story during a conference call this morning ahead of this afternoon’s upfronts presentation to advertisers in New York City.
From The Wrap:
Fox wanted to bring “American Idol” back after a multi-season hiatus, network co-chairman and CEO Dana Walden said on Monday, but producer Fremantle wasn’t feeling that.
Returning the singing competition any sooner after its much-publicized “Farewell Season” on Fox last year would have been “extremely fraudulent” to fans, she explained of the broadcaster’s 2020 comeback pitch.
“We did make an offer,” Walden said on a conference call ahead of its afternoon upfront presentation. “Fremantle was definitely not interested.”
Thanks in large part to all of Fox’s marketing and some strong guest-booking, “Idol” received a TV ratings resurgence of sorts last season. That wasn’t enough for Walden to break her promotional promise to viewers, however.
Instead, American Idol inked a deal with ABC and will be returning to the airwaves in 2018. There really is something to be said for giving American Idol a multi-season rest before bringing it back. A three season wait sounds reasonable. Now, if American Idol fails on ABC, that will likely be the end of the show.
Why are Freemantle/Core so desperate to bring American Idol back? Both companies have lost significant income without the show as part of their respective portfolios.
Here’s more from The Hollywood Reporter:
Rather than suggest that she was comfortable with the network switch, however, Walden was refreshingly candid about how challenging it is to see a show that was so meaningful to Fox for 15 years move to a rival. “It’s obviously a tough one for us,” she began. “It feels bad knowing it’s coming back on another network.”
In Walden’s mind, waiting until 2020 would be a more respectful amount of time to have Idol sit on the bench. “We did not see the fan excitement and enthusiasm for the show to come back [sooner],” she added, suggesting Fremantle had a different set of facts. The latter, for whom Idol is a significant revenue generator, was driven from the day it wrapped to see it return as soon as possible.
“The network was losing an enormous amount of money and we asked them to make trims,” explained Walden, adding that Fremantle had little interest in such trims, which would entail tweaking the show or the panel of star wattage that took years to get just right. “Fremantle doesn’t want to change that show and perhaps they shouldn’t,” she added, lingering frustration apparent in her voice. Despite it all, Fox continued to make offers for the show, if for no other reason than Walden and her team didn’t want to see a show so closely connected with their brand land elsewhere.