Fox broke its silence on the worrisome performance of former reality titan “American Idol” and reports that the network is planning to reboot the entire show — including dumping its judges panel. Longtime Idol judge Randy Jackson quit last week after hearing the news, which still leaves Mariah Carey, Keith Urban and Nicki Minaj up for possible elimination.
Speaking on a conference call with reporters before the network’s upfront presentation in New York City on Monday, Fox entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly blamed the show’s ratings decline on the age of the show and some creative changes that were made to season 12′s format.
“More so than any one factor is the age of the show right now, but [also] maybe the format this year,” Reilly said. “We expanded some of the middle rounds we did a boy-girl thing that went over three weeks — that’s really where the ratings took their biggest hit. The only thing I will confirm is next year, without getting into any specifics, our next season begins on the Friday morning after our [Idol] finale — that’s when we’re really going to get to work in earnest.”
Despite partly blaming the show’s ratings decline on format tweaks, Reilly pledged there will be more format tweaks next year for lucky season 13: “The format will have a few fresh twists, that we’ve already identified, that will be a nice little jolt for next season.”
Pressed on whether the remaining three judges will be “welcome” to return, Reilly said, “Welcome back? Absolutely. But everything at this point is on the table.”
And asked if the show will return to a three-judge panel, instead of four, Reilly replied, “Likely.”
The 12-year-old reality franchise is down 23 percent to 15.2 million viewers for its Wednesday night performance shows this year, and has gone from the No. 1 show to a mere Top 5 show. Fox has won the broadcast season for a record eight consecutive years in a row. But “Idol” is a major part of Fox’s success and the network will likely come in second place behind CBS this season.
Reilly added: “We can only confirm that one judge is not coming back, obviously in Randy. It was not a complete a shock. We’ve talked to Randy, we felt like it was time to move [on], we didn’t know the exact timing of it. He’s been a great partner for 12 years and there’s not an ounce of ill-will there.”
By James Hibberd