ABC has the framework for an agreement in place with producers FremantleMedia and CoreMedia Group to revive American Idol, Variety reported.
The network is planning to debut a new season of American Idol in March 2018 with the reality singing competition scheduled to air on Sunday nights, according to Variety sources, a timeslot during which ABC has struggled when up against NBC's football packages.
Whether Ryan Seacrest will return to host American Idol remains uncertain given he recently moved from Los Angeles, CA -- where Idol is filmed -- to New York City in order to co-host Live with Kelly alongside Kelly Ripa for ABC. Seacrest also has other radio, TV and producing responsibilities in the entertainment industry.
ABC has yet to finalize the deal to bring back American Idolbut an announcement will reportedly be made later this month when the network unveils its 2017-2018 schedule. Fremantle allegedly insisted on a minimum 25-hour order from any broadcast partner.
ABC thought of adding Idol to its programming slate last month while reportedly mapping out contingency plans for a possible strike by the Writers Guild of America. Many broadcast and cable networks had recently devoted time to exploring unscripted shows to potentially order or expand in case the strike came to fruition, however the union reached a new deal and avoided a strike last week.
The ABC deal will preclude the involvement of original Idol judge Simon Cowell -- who was rumored to possibly rejoin the show when NBC (which has an existing deal with Cowell for America's Got Talent) was previously bidding on the series -- but may feature Season 1 winner and pop icon Kelly Clarkson on the judging panel, Variety reported.
Talks about Cowell coming back to American Idol as a judge reportedly fell through because he produces and judges America's Got Talent for NBC as part of an exclusive agreement, so his contract won't allow him to participate in an ABC version of Idol.
Though previously a frontrunner to winAmerican Idolin a bidding war against Fox, NBC was reportedly worried how airing the show might negatively impact its already hugely successful reality singing competition, The Voice, hosted by Carson Daly. The network was also allegedly turned off by producers' increased asking price for American Idolin recent days.
ABC also outbid Fox for American Idol's revival despite a last-minute "over-the-top offer" from Fox, according to TMZ.
Fox -- which was home to Idol for all of its 15 seasons but reportedly found it too expensive to continue to produce with its high-profile talent such as Jennifer Lopez -- was reportedly unaware of how far along Idol and ABC were in their negotiations before making their huge final bid.
Despite the desperate attempt by Fox, ABC sealed the deal on American Idol on Friday night, the website reported.
When TMZ paparazzi caught up with Seacrest in New York on Saturday night, he said he's "excited" American Idol is coming back but also acknowledged his recent acceptance of a "fantastic position" on Live with Kelly & Ryan just a matter of days ago.
Seacrest didn't exactly confirm or deny whether he'd be up for hosting Idol again since he'd have to fly round-trip from the east coast to the west coast twice a week to make it work, but it's clear he loves the singing show.
The show premiered on Fox in 2002, and at the peak of its success in 2006, Idol drew an enormous 36.4 total viewers. Ratings, however, steadily declined as the show neared its end. Its final season reportedly averaged only 9.1 million viewers.
Although Season 15 was referred to as American Idol's "farewell season," Seacrest hinted at a possible revival when speaking at the Television Critics Association winter press tour last year.
"When you've got a franchise that has this kind of heritage and you've got a franchise that generates X amount of millions of people, if it sustains, does that mean it's the end?" Seacrest said. "I'm not so sure."
In addition, American Idol's Season 15 finale broadcast ended with Seacrest signing off with "Goodnight America... for now" -- an apparent reference to Idol creator Simon Fuller's then-recent admission that he expected the show would "certainly be coming back" at some point in the future.