The team at Fox made their position on ABC's "American Idol" revival clear on Monday, saying it's "way too soon" to bring the singing competition back after its "farewell season" aired just last year.
On a conference call Monday, Fox TV Chairman Dana Walden told reporters that the networked rejected more "Idol" because they felt it would be "extremely fraudulent" to bring the show back in 2018, as ABC announced last week.
"They were determined to get this show back on the air as quickly as possible," Walden said. "We spent about $25 million sending a clear message that it was the farewell season. It felt to us it would be extremely fraudulent to bring the show back quickly, that fans would not appreciate being told one thing and then having the show brought back right away.'
"Idol" producer FremantleMedia had conversations with Walden about the launch, and according to Fox, the two groups shared very different opinions about the show's reboot in terms of ratings and costs.
"We and Fremantle had very different points of view," Walden said. "The last conversation we had with them was about how the ratings had dropped over 70 percent over four years. There was clearly a ratings trend. It was not going in the right direction. The network was losing an enormous amount of money and we had asked them to make trims. And they felt, as is their right, that they didn’t want to take significant trims, they didn’t want to test out a new panel — they felt like it had taken a long time to find the chemistry they had with [Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez, and Harry Connick]. They ultimately said to us they would rather rest the show after this season rather than make any changes, and that’s when we decided to call it the farewell season."
FremantleMedia reportedly went to NBC first in hopes to continue the show - which according to Walden would work to their benefit, being that Simon Cowell would be accessible, because he's an EP on NBC's "America's Got Talent." ABC was added to the conversation later, and that's where FremantleMedia ultimately decided to house the show.
"And all of a sudden we were made aware of conversations with ABC to bring the show back in 2018, which, again, would put it off the air for one season. And we again felt like this is way too soon. We tried to engage Fremantle in conversations about bringing it back in 2020 which is when we thought would be an appropriate amount of time off the air, and could give the producers and creators the opportunity to make some changes that could present the next generation of Idol, and they really just weren’t interested in that. They wanted it back on the air and thought ABC was a good opportunity.”
"We thought it was too early to bring the show back. All of our research and all of our fan forums supported that notion. We did not see the fan excitement and enthusiasm for the show to come back that Fremantle did. We just had a different set of facts."
"American Idol' is a pop-culture staple that left the air too soon," ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey said Tuesday. "ABC is the right home to reignite the fan base. We are thrilled viewers will once again share in these inspiring stories of people realizing their dreams."
"'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,'" added Disney co-chairman Ben Sherwood. "America, get ready for the return of a bigger, bolder and better-than-ever 'Idol.'"