Even though it is premature, the suggestion of American Idol back on the Big Four is a bit of a head-scratcher. It was a shell of its former self when it finally wrapped up, averaging a 3.0 rating among adults 18-49 and 11 million viewers in its final season.
Those numbers, which include time-shifting, are actually pretty good by most standards -- though not by the ones Idol was held up against. The show came at incredible price tag for Fox, which had to pay astronomical salaries to talent -- most notably Ryan Seacrest and Jennifer Lopez.
NBC could have a number of rationales for the move. Network brass, most notably entertainment chief Bob Greenblatt and alternative topper Paul Telegdy, have spoken about the fact that The Voice will likely end up airing annually and not twice a season as it has done since its premiere. Though the series has kept atypically steady in the ratings, thanks in large part to a revolving door of A-list mentor talent, it has not been immune to declines. Another possibility, which one source suggests, is that the network is looking for leverage in its upcoming negotiation with The Voice producers.
Creator Simon Fuller has never been shy about his desire to place Idol elsewhere. As soon as it ended, the prolific producer was already talking about how it will likely look different when it eventually returns. "There are loads of ideas being shared and I’m deep in thought about how we can evolve Idol," he told THR last year. "We debuted at the very beginning of the digital world. So the next generation of Idol will be a lot more interactive, a lot more immersive."
Seacrest was also optimistic when he spoke to THR in 2016. "I just don't see a world where Idol doesn't resurface," he said. "We look at formats. We try to create shows. It's hard to believe that franchise doesn't resurface in some capacity, in some form, soon."
Lesley Goldberg contributed to this report. The news was first reported by Variety.
This article originally appeared on The Hollywood Reporter.