Insiders dished to The Wrap about how the decision came about to cancel American Idol after the 2016 15th season. The move to end the veteran singing show was preceded by “nearly a month of deep conversations between network executives, producers and talent” on how to “to bid the franchise farewell.”
Production costs, declining ratings and the loss of big sponsors like Coke and AT&T all came into play. Ford is still on board as a sponsor, but in a limited capacity.
A “graceful retirement” became a priority for FOX and the producers.
“People think the enduring secret of reality is that it’s cheaper to produce, but not in the case of ‘Idol,’” said the Wrap’s insider.
“It’s got the costs of a mid-level scripted series and the ratings don’t reflect that investment. Instead of trying to trim the show down, they said, ‘Let’s end this in the right way.’”
“Even from an advertiser standpoint, the show used to have the triple crown — telecom, soft drink, auto,” the insider added.
The expenses included the reported 17.5 million dollar salary for judge Jennifer Lopez, 15 million dollars for host Ryan Seacrest and three hours of live (two this year) television a week. Other than ditching Jlo, I’m not sure how much more they could have reasonably trimmed a show that was already airing only once a week.
Interestingly, FOX “reached out to the judges and Ryan [Seacrest] to see if they were up for one more before moving forward,” said the insider. Anything less than “full participation” could have resulted in an “abrupt” cancellation. In other words, FOX would only air the show another season if they didn’t have to change a thing. Even the expense of scouting for new judges or another host would have been too much.
Meanwhile, It’s no secret that FOX has been in talks with Simon Cowell regarding possible new projects for the network. The Wrap is also reporting a rumor that FOX will re-team with Simon for a new singing competition after giving the format a rest for a year. After Simon’s X Factor franchise failed to ignite after 3 season on the air, would FOX really consider going back to him for a new singing show?