TCA17: Walden Stands By Fox Decision to Cancel ‘American Idol’

Complete Coverage: 2017 TCA Summer Press Tour

Beverly Hills, Calif. — Dana Walden, Fox Television Group Chairman and CEO, stood by the network’s decision to cancel American Idol, which is returning on ABC. She said ratings were down substantially, and the show had gotten “extremely expensive,” in large part because of big-name judges.

“It was a really tough decision to make,” she said, adding that “the economics were terrible for us at that moment.”

Walden said there were talks with producer Fremantle to cut costs and to shake up the format of the show. “They were very worried about doing anything that would disrupt the chemistry of the panel,” she said. “They did not want to experiment with the format.”

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She mentioned a “dilemma” of moving forward with Idol at “that extraordinary loss,” or saying goodbye to Idol.

The last episode of Fox's American Idol aired in spring 2016.

Fox announced a new singing competition series, The Four, at its TCA session in Los Angeles.

Walden said Fox was keen to get American Idol back, but not so soon after it was cancelled. “We felt like that was very fraudulent to our viewers,” she said.

ABC faces the same tough decisions about assembling the right panel, managing cost and deciding how much to shake up the show’s format, said Walden. Bringing Ryan Seacrest back to host, she said, “was really smart.”

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.