Less than two seasons since cancelling their long-running franchise American Idol, Variety reports that Fox isn't waiting for the body to get cold and is getting back into the "singing competition" business with a new take on the format from Israeli producer and distributor Armoza Formats. Although a deal for a final series order is still being finalized, movement on the new series turned serious after ABC announced in May that they were the new home for Idol for the upcoming reboot.
The still-untitled singing competition series is expected to be a unique take on the standard singer/stage show set-up, with the show's "final four" already selected by the end of the first episode. The catch? The four finalists must sing every week to protect their spots from new contestants vying to make it to the season finale, where a final winner is crowned.
If picked up for series, this will be the first show developed under Rob Wade, Fox's new alternative programming chief. Armoza Formats has been shopping the show format internationally, making it's first sale to French production company Satisfaction in April.
American Idol was a ratings juggernaut for Fox during most of its 15-season run, holding the honor of being television's highest-rated series for eight consecutive years during that time. Low ratings in key advertising demographics combined with a declining social media "buzz" in comparison to shows like NBC's The Voice led Fox to cancel the series in 2016.
The problem for Fox? Even though Idol had seen better days, it was still a solid ratings earner for the network; and since it was cancelled, Fox has yet to find a series to make up for it. Even more daunting for Fox is that the odds are not in their favor: The Voice was the last successful singing competition series to premiere…and that was in 2011.
With the possibility of three singing competition shows competing against each other starting in 2018, none of them are taking things for granted.
● Fox: If they could have their new series ready to premiere in January 2018, Fox could use their broadcasts of the NFL's NFC playoffs to promote it — putting it in front of a lot of eyeballs — and it could also be a two-month ratings "ambush" on Idol, which isn't expected to premiere until Spring 2018.
● ABC: While the final judging panel has yet to be finalized (with Chris Daughtry, Carrie Underwood and Adam Lambert still in discussions), ABC was able to sign Katy Perry to a $25 million deal to serve as an Idol judge for the show's return season. Negotiations with Ryan Seacrest to return as host are still ongoing, with insiders expecting an announced deal within the next few days.
● NBC: Seen by media experts as both a smart business move and a "shot across the bough" at both ABC and the returning Idol, NBC signed original Idol alums Kelly Clarkson and Jennifer Hudson to serve as coaches for upcoming seasons of The Voice.