The choice to end American Idol did not come easily for Fox, who told reporters on Monday that the decision was an “emotional” one.
“American Idol has been such a vital part of Fox for its run, and we spent a lot of time talking with producers about the future of American Idol and, collectively, we all arrived at the conclusion that it was time to bring the show to an end,” said Gary Newman, chairman and CEO at Fox.
The exec added that the show’s 15th and final season, which will air in 2016 and will follow the same format as this year – that is, once a week and without a separate results show – will be a “season-long celebration. We’re already talking about surprises we can have for the fans to make it feel special.”
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On whether Fox had considered moving the show to the summer or changing its format, Newman said that that had never really been part of the discussion. “We really didn’t give a lot of thought to that. Idol had been the No. 1 show on broadcast for eight seasons. It was a collective decision that the right way to send this show out is right in the time period it has been for these last few years and to make it a celebratory event.”
Newman also noted that the show “still has a great deal of popularity in viewing, and we’re going to end with a really special season.”
Idol‘s final season will have Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr. returning to the judges’ panel. Ryan Seacrest will return to host, and Fox says that appearances from Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson are fairly likely: “Having spent time very recently with former Idol judges, there’s a lot of enthusiasm about coming back and paying tribute to a show that launched many, many successful careers.”