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ABC defends American Idol revival

Says exec: ‘Perfect time’ to bring back

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Scott Gries/Getty Images

ABC is defending reviving American Idol a year after the show had its “farewell season” on Fox.

The network is bringing back the reality competition for a 16th season next year. On Monday, a top executive at Idol‘s former network had some strong words about the move, calling a return so soon “extremely fraudulent.”

“Look, from where we sit, we feel it’s a great time to bring the series back,” ABC entertainment president Channing Dungey told reporters on a conference call Tuesday to announce the network’s new fall schedule. “What I love about it, personally, [is that Idol is] about uplifting stories about people who make their dreams come true — and that’s our sweet spot at ABC. All of our franchises deal in that. For me, that makes it feel like the perfect home at the perfect time.”

The executive confirmed the network will be making some format changes to the show to freshen it up. “Absolutely, this is going to be ABC’s version of American Idol so we’re very excited. I think you’ll see when we unveil our version of the show that it’s going to have a very clear ABC hallmark and brand on it at that point.”

ABC also noted the show will serve as a promotional platform for the network.

“The great thing for us is that this is a show viewers love to watch live; advertisers love shows that people love to watch live, so we feel this will be a great promotional platform for us,” she said.

On Monday, Fox television group chairman Dana Walden said their research had suggested that fans would be resistant to the idea of Idol returning too quickly. Fox also bid for Idol‘s return but wanted to wait until 2020 to bring the show back. “We felt like this is way too soon,” Walden said. “We did not see the fan excitement and enthusiasm for the show to come back.”

But even having suffered plenty of rating decline over the years, the “final” season of Idol still managed to average 11.5 million viewers and a 3.0 rating among adults 18-49 for its Wednesday night episodes — and those are numbers ABC would be happy to have after a season when shows with a 1.6 demo rating are getting renewed.

No talent for ABC’s revival has yet been announced but Ryan Seacrest is expected to return as host and Katy Perry is in negotiations for the anchor judges spot. While ABC’s new schedule doesn’t give any hint where Idol might land, sources say the network is considering airing the show on Sunday and Monday nights.