The topic of the FOX executive panel at today’s (Aug 8) Television Critics Association tour in Beverly Hills naturally turned to the network’s decision not to reboot. American Idol. As you all know, the Disney/ABC version of the iconic show is set to premiere in 2018.
“The economics were terrible for us, at that moment,” FOX CEO Dana Walden said about the decision to cancel the show in 2016. Producers Fremantlemedia didn’t want to change the format much, according to Walden, which became a stumbling block between the two. The production company was open to minor cosmetic fixes, but not comfortable with disrupting the chemistry of the show with big format changes.
Walden said, “[Fremantle] liked the show the way it was, they were willing to make small tweaks. What we got back from them was, ‘We would prefer to end this run than to do anything that dramatically changes the format.’ We looked at [America’s Got Talent] and when they brought in Howard Stern and shook up the chemistry and involved someone who had a different promotional platform that could feed into their primary audience on the show, and Fremantle really — and again I don’t blame them — they felt like the format worked and they wanted to protect it.”
Numbers for the one-time ratings juggernaut dropped over 70 percent during its time at Fox. Instead of moving forward “at that extraordinary loss” FOX decided to stop running the show for some time and heavily promote one final season.
“Then the question was would you ever like to have American Idol back? Yes,” Walden said. “Did we want it back a year or two later? No. We felt like that was very fraudulent to our viewers.”
Walden admitted that Fox was “a little bit back on our heels” as far as getting the show back. They could have been more aggressive, she said.
Who was making a mistake Fox killing the show or ABC rebooting it? Walden joked “ABC.”
Instead, FOX will mount a brand new singing show in 2018, titled The Four, which Walden said would be less about “celebrity panels” than it would be emerging musical talent.
With the possibility of three singing shows airing at one time next year–The Voice, American Idol and The Four–Walden indicated that she had no plans to air The Four opposite the rival formats because she wanted to see it have a shot at succeeding.