“American Idol” is changing up its format going into Season 14. Long-time host Ryan Seacrest confirmed that the show will only air once a week instead of the usual performance show followed by a results show format. The effort is an attempt to streamline the series, which has been consistently losing steam since its hayday in 2006.
“We are going to do the performance show and the results in the same show,” Seacrest told The Hollywood Reporter. “So there won’t be a ‘wait ‘til tomorrow night.’ There won’t be a ‘Coming up, coming up, coming up.’ We are going to put it all into one format in one night. So that will be exciting."
While the host is dressing the change up in the clothing of "excitement," it’s no real secret that the move is a direct effort from Fox to scale back the waning singing competition. In a conference call detailing the company’s latest quarterly earnings, the network’s president, Case Carey, explained the reality of the show’s current standing.
“We know ‘American Idol’ is winding down,” he said, according to DigitalSpy, adding that ratings have “fallen faster than we hoped.”
The show has fallen a long way from its rating record finale in 2006, which saw 36 million people tune in. The 13th season premiered to 15.19 million viewers, no small feat, but also not worth the time, effort and cost that the show previously demanded. This explains the decision to streamline the show for audiences.
At an upfront call in May, former Fox president Kevin Reilly first mentioned the reduction in episodes as a result of the show’s reduced ratings, according to Deadline.
“It will not come back to being the rating champion it once was but… it can be a vital, potent unscripted show in its time period, like CBS’ 'Survivor,'” he said. “That’s the mode we’re in and we believe ['Idol'] will be on the air for many years to come.”
While it may sound damning for “American Idol” to get scaled back like this, it’s worth noting that this isn’t a move that’s new to Fox. “Dancing With The Stars” and “So You Think You Can Dance” have each been scaled back from two shows a week to one. What makes it feel like evidence of a near-future cancellation is simply that “American Idol” was once the network’s greatest and most powerful ratings asset.
"American Idol" returns for Season 14 on Jan. 7 2015. Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick, Jr. will return as judges.