American Idol

'American Idol' return is a sore subject for FOX: Network was in talks to bring the show back in 2020

“American Idol” is headed to ABC after 15 years on FOX, and FOX is admittedly not too thrilled about that. 

Chairman and CEO of Fox Television Group Dana Walden revealed that it was tough to watch the show that had been so synchronous with FOX head to a new network – just one full year after it had its highly-publicized farewell season.

“You know, this is obviously a tough one for us,” she said when asked about “Idol” during a FOX executive conference call on Monday morning. “We loved ‘American Idol.’ It’s so connected to the Fox brand. So yes, it feels bad knowing it’s coming back on another network.”

She revealed the move came down to a complicated back-and-forth between FOX and “Idol’s” production company, FremantleMedia. Walden didn’t hide that the two parties couldn’t agree on a way to bring the show back -- or on a lot of things. 

“We thought it was too early to bring the show back,” Walden said.

She said part of that issue was that the network spent millions promoting the 15th season as the “farewell season.” It premiered on January 6, 2016, and wrapped on April 7, 2016.

Walden said FOX felt “very strongly” that it would be “extremely fraudulent” to bring back the show so soon after the network had promised it had aired its final season. She added that “our fans would not appreciate being told one thing and then [seeing another.]”

The decision to cut “Idol” had come down to the consistent ratings drop.

“We tried to engaged Fremantle in conversations about bringing it back in ’20… and they just weren’t interested it,” she explained. “They wanted it back on the air and they thought ABC was a good opportunity.”

She added before the decision was made to air the final season and wrap the show, FOX mulled over some changes that could be made to get the series back on its feet.

Walden revealed that one change that was brought up with FremantleMedia was changing the judge’s panel of Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr.

“They didn’t want to try to test out a new panel,” she said. “They ultimately said to us they would rather rest the show after this season… That’s when we decided to call it the farewell season.”

And then FremantleMedia took the show to ABC.

She reiterated that FOX would have brought back the show in 2020, but the production company chose not to wait.

“We saw ’20 as being a respectful amount of time to wait in between rebooting ‘Idol’ for fans who heard our message clearly that this would be our farewell season.”

“American Idol” will begin airing on ABC sometime during the next TV season, which kicks off in September.  

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