After being off the air for just over a year, American Idol is officially returning to TV, this time on ABC. But many fans are already asking why American Idol is being revived so soon after it ended its original 15 year run on Fox in April 2016. When the series was canceled, it felt as though American Idol had run its course, and even competitors like The X Factor failed to make a significant impact on audiences. So why is the show coming back in 2017? And will anyone actually be watching it?
Clearly, American Idol was an important TV juggernaut for several reasons, not least because it discovered singing superstars like Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson, and Carrie Underwood. But, in recent years, the show's popularity waned, and even exciting judges like Jennifer Lopez couldn't reverse declining ratings. At the height of its fame, American Idol brought in 31 million viewers, twice weekly, but the show's final season averaged just 11.5 million even with Lopez as a draw. Will ABC be able to reignite interest in the vintage talent show? I don't know if I can say that for sure yet, but representatives of the network are definitely interested in trying.
The president of Disney-ABC, Ben Sherwood, said, “Idol is an entertainment icon, and now it will air where it belongs, in ABC’s lineup of addictive fan favorites alongside Dancing With The Stars and The Bachelor." As the network is such a reality TV haven, perhaps the ABC reboot of American Idol will find its feet again? It's true that reality TV juggernauts like The Bachelor and Dancing With The Stars continue to draw big audiences. When viewed as part of that successful package of shows, American Idol is a perfect addition to the network's roster.
On top of that, objectively speaking, as is the way with Hollywood blockbusters, reboots are often the fastest way to make money. Placing a bet on a new show is risky, because it's unclear whether an audience will tune in. With a long-running and much celebrated, show like American Idol, ABC can be certain that at least some of the original audience will be watching the reboot. Whether that factored into their decision to revive the show can't be said for certain, but, to me, that would be smart business.
Whether we're ready for it or not, American Idol is returning to our screens in the fall. This news is sure to make fans of the original series extremely happy, but has the rest of us wondering, well, isn't it time for the next generation of talent shows to be invented?
Editor's Note: This article has been updated from its original version.