The biggest TV entertainment series of the 21st century will end next year.
Fox is officially closing the curtain on American Idol after its upcoming 15th season, the network announced Monday.
American Idol XV will have the same judges as the last two cycles—Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick, Jr.— along with the show’s host, Ryan Seacrest, who has been with the series from the beginning.
Fox noted that the final season will pay tribute to the show’s previous years.
Idol was once dubbed Fox’s Death Star, a series so popular it decimated any rival that dared to air at the same time. At the musical competition’s ratings peak in 2006, Idol drew more than an incredible 36 million viewers for its season finale. It’s a performance that was all the more impressive given that Fox packed as many as 41 episodes of Idol onto its schedule during the show’s relatively brief midseason runs—and many of those episodes were two hours long.
Yet ratings have fallen nearly every season since Idol’s peak. This year, Idol delivered a series-low 11.6 million viewers, and that’s including DVR playback. While Idol is pulling a higher average than some surviving shows, producing Idol isn’t cheap—there’s famous singers judging the talent, a multi-city audition tour, and live shows to produce.
Along the way, Idol also spawned plenty of imitators. We might not have competition panel hits like ABC’s Dancing with the Stars and NBC’s America’s Got Talent if not for Idol paving the way, and almost certainly wouldn’t have NBC’s The Voice, which is still going strong going into the fall. Yet none of them ever became as powerful and popular as Idol.
More to come on Idol later this morning after Fox’s press conference, which is certain to address this decision.