It’s official: Katy Perry is going to be an American Idol judge.
ABC has signed the “Roar” and “Bon Appetit” singer for the revived franchise’s 16th season, which will debut next year. ABC made the announcement at its upfront presentation to advertisers in New York on Tuesday.
The casting is considered a very impressive hire; producers of singing competition shows have tried to land Perry for a judging position for years. It’s also arguably a necessary hire as ABC is facing some skepticism about bringing back the pioneering competition series after its cancellation by Fox just last year and needs a major star name to anchor the panel.
“I am honored and thrilled to be the first judge bringing back the American Idol tradition of making dreams come true for incredible talents with authentic personalities and real stories,” Perry said in a statement. “I’m always listening to new music, and love discovering diamonds in the rough – from mentoring young artists on my label, or highlighting new artists on my tours, I want to bring it back to the music.”
ABC was previously in talks with another sought-after candidate for Idol — Kelly Clarkson, who won the show’s first season. But within days of ABC’s Idol deal being announced, NBC swooped in and signed Clarkson for The Voice this fall along with fellow Idol alum Jennifer Hudson. The moves had the industry buzzing that ABC might have been coach-blocked by their rival. (NBC executives have denied the hires were specifically made to trump Idol).
Earlier, ABC entertainment president Channing Dungey defended bringing back Idol so soon after its “farewell” season on Fox last year.
“Look, from where we sit, we feel it’s a great time to bring the series back,” she said. “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.”
Perry’s hire is likely rather costly, with industry insiders estimating the hire cost ABC upwards of $10-$15 million. It’s likely the other two judges spots will be filled by lower-profile (read: less expensive) names. The cost factor is important to Idol‘s long-term survival as the show originally wore out its welcome on Fox due to a combination of sagging ratings and an expensive price tag for a live event series that includes a multi-city audition tour and famous musical talent at the judges’ table.
Still, the “final” season of Idol averaged 11.5 million viewers and a 3.0 rating among adults 18-49 for its Wednesday night episodes, and those are some numbers ABC would be happy to have. The network hasn’t announced when Idol will air, but the industry rumor is that ABC will air the show early next year on Sundays and Mondays.
For Perry, the singer has her first new album in four years, Witness, which will be released June 9. Plus she has a North American tour scheduled to begin Sept. 7. But it wouldn’t be surprising if Disney’s media empire helps promote Perry’s new album over the summer as part of her Idol deal.