Credit: Michael Becker/Fox

Fox’s American Idol is currently on its final season and will soon end forever and ever … right?

With the series’ producers and talent at the Television Critics Association’s press tour in Pasadena on Friday, the panelists noted they were told to say this is the “Farewell Season,” not “Final Season.” That correction prompted a reporter to ask host Ryan Seacrest if he thinks this will really be the end of the show, whose current 15th season ratings have been surprisingly decent since launching this month compared to the steeper drops suffered by other broadcast programming.

“We’re all pleased people are watching, and some are coming back to watch the show who maybe didn’t watch it the last couple years,” Seacrest said. “So when you got a franchise with this heritage, and you’ve got a franchise [watched by] X-amount of millions of people, that sustains. Does that mean it’s the end? I’m not so sure.”

Fox’s stance on the matter has been firm, and continues to be firm: The is the final season of Idol … on Fox. But the show is owned by producer Fremantlemedia. If Fox has passed its deadline on renewing the show, Fremantlemedia will be free to shop the competition format to other networks. And given that Fox’s TCA session on Friday morning has included news of a pilot order reviving 24 and a limited series reviving Prison Break, it’s tough to imagine the Idol brand going away forever — it’s more likely a matter of how many years before Fox, or another network, brings back Idol again.

Later, the rest of the panel weighed in on the prospect of the show continuing — if not next year, a year or two down the line.

“I’m so focused on this year, I can’t even think about that,” said judge Harry Connick Jr. “I really can’t. We are so excited about the talent this year. I’m so happy right now I couldn’t even tell you what’s going to happen two years from now.”

“Hypothetically, if that happened, American Idol has a special place in my heart,” added judge Jennifer Lopez. “It’s something I’d always consider.”

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“I’m obsessed about it,” Seacrest said. “This show is like a family member to me. I love the promise of this show, I love what this show has done. So I’m obsessed about it.”

“You don’t just become American Idol by accident,” mentor Scott Borchetta added. “And when you look at the amazing chemistry, especially that the three current judges have, it’s gotten better every year. Watching this season, they’re killing it. For that opportunity to be reinvented and reimagined, and how you can use all the current media to come out with the next American Idol, it’s really exciting to reimagine what the show could be.”

Episode Recaps

American Idol

Ryan Seacrest hosts as Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan guide aspiring singers on their way to superstardom.

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