American Idol returns for its second season on ABC, and one thing the network kept when it brought the show over from FOX was exorbitant salaries for its talent. Katy Perry, Ryan Seacrest, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie could all comfortably retire after just one season on the show.
Back in March 2018, before the show's first ABC season debuted, the Wall Street Journal reported that ABC paid the quartet a combined $59 million. Host Seacrest and judge Bryan are both paid $12 million, while judge Perry took in $25 million for her first season. Despite being a living music legend, Richie was paid the least for his first season, with $10 million.
One of the reasons for the show's cancellation on FOX was the cost and declining ratings. The network was paying Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr. $3.5 million each to judge on the final season, while Seacrest and judge Jennifer Lopez pocketed $15 million each.
FOX TV Group Chairman Dana Walden told the Wall Street Journal her network also spent $25 million to promote the final FOX season as the show's last season. She called ABC's decision to bring back Idol after the show was off-air for only one season "extremely fraudulent."
However, then-ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey defended reviving the brand so soon.
"Audiences are looking for storytelling that is joyful and optimistic. We're offering something to watch together as a family," Dungey told the WSJ.
"The view that Idol was failing is only valid if you compare it to its peak," Cecile Frot-Coutaz, who was the CEO of show producer FremantleMedia when Idol was revived, added.
When Idol was renewed for a second season on ABC, it was a mild surprise since the show's overall audience was smaller than FOX's final season. However, what likely got the show another year was its success among the advertiser-friendly 18-49 demographic.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Sunday episodes averaged a 2.1 rating in the demo and Monday's averaged 1.9 with live-plus-3 DVR bumps. This was only slightly more than the 1.8 rating ABC reportedly promised advertisers.
Idol also helped ABC take some pressure off of Dancing With The Stars, which is taking Spring 2019 off and will not be back until the fall. It also provides a bridge between The Bachelor and summer reality shows.
The one thing Idol did not do was help ABC launch new scripted shows. Last season, ABC aired Deception and The Crossing after it, and both shows were cancelled. This season, ABC is airing the long-running Shark Tank after the premiere.
"We knew that American Idol on ABC would unleash an opportunity for singers from all walks of life to realize their dreams and that these incredible contestants would have America rooting for their success," Dungey said when the show was renewed. "I am thrilled that Katy, Luke, Lionel and Ryan will be back to once again embark on this Idol journey with us to discover the next crop of inspiring talent."
American Idol's new season starts on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET.
Photo credit: ABC