Think Tank Express: “Idol” moving to NBC?

The rich could get richer

Well, that didn’t take long – NBC and Fremantle Media are in talks about bringing back American Idol sometime next season.

American Idol, of course, ended its run ten months ago on Fox after a fourteen-season run. During its peak, Idol drew more thirty million viewers a week and attracted nearly half of all 18-49 viewers watching TV. It really put Fox on the map, propelling it from “the coat-hanger network” to a major player (although, acquiring the NFL in 1994 actually did so.) Idol also was a cultural game-changer, changing the face of the music industry and made stars of Kelly Clarkson, Chris Daughtry, Carrie Underwood and Chicago’s own Jennifer Hudson.

The series’ decline has been documented on this blog and elsewhere.

Now, NBC is looking to revive the series perhaps as the network is looking to cut back on The Voice, the rival show that put Idol out of business.

Wait a minute… The Voice and American Idol on NBC? That’s like the Cubs and White Sox sharing the same home ballpark.

But the idea of bringing it back doesn’t seem as far fetched as you think. In its final season, Idol actually performed well, scoring ratings increases from the previous season. In fact, Idol outdrew many programs in the coveted 18-49 demo, the one advertisers pay the most for. Call it curiosity and hype for the final season, but the numbers still resonate.

Now, as ratings for linear (live watching) television continues to decline, reality-competition shows seems to be the best bet as evidenced by the continued success of The Voice, Dancing With The Stars, The Bachelor, and Survivor.

The announcement of a possible revival so soon caught everyone off-guard – even long-time media watchers.

Fox officials said last week it was too soon to bring back the series, after leaving the airwaves after only ten months. But with NBC now in the hunt, it leaves them in an interesting situation. Much like the White Sox and the Bears, Fox is in rebuilding mode this season – and the next few seasons as the schedule now is dominated by weak and buzzless shows. Fremantle is basic forcing Fox’s hand – can they afford to wait? It’s like Kobe Bryant retiring from the Lakers only for the Golden State Warriors trying to lure him back in the game (it won’t happen.)

And now NBC – who regularly finished fourth during Idol’s heyday and was made the butt of jokes with fare such as The Jay Leno Show and Animal Practice, is now back on top thanks to critically-acclaimed freshman series This Is Us and the popular Chicago dramas – even without Sunday Night Football in the mix. And now they could get even more dominant.

I guess those laughs last – get the last laugh.