Fox Chiefs on Ending ‘American Idol’ After 15 Seasons: ‘It Was Not an Easy Decision’

Co-Chairman and CEO Dana Walden says there’s “a lot of enthusiasm” around former judges and contestants appearing on final season

Keith Urban, jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick Jr.

Fox revealed Monday morning that “American Idol” would be returning for one last gasp next year, concluding its run with a 15th season. On a conference call with reporters, Fox TV Group co-chairman and CEO Gary Newman said making the call was a tough one.

“It was not an easy decision,” he said, calling “Idol” a “vital part” of Fox’s success in the new millennium.

Because of how much the singing show means to the network, Newman is pleased with how it is coming to an end in advance, as opposed to a more sudden cancellation.

“We really wanted to do it in a way that felt special and celebratory,” he explained, adding that they never really considered moving it back to summer. “The right way to send this show out is … in the time period it’s had for the last few years.”

Co-chairman and CEO Dana Walden added that there is “a lot of enthusiasm” around former judges and contestants making appearances next year, though it’s too early for any announcements.

“We’d welcome any of them back,” she said of Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson. She and Newman are currently having conversations with producers about anything that would be “celebratory [or] nostalgic.”

However, detailed conversations with production companies Fremantle and 19 Television about future of the brand and franchise have yet to take place.

“That story remains to be written,” Newman said.

The executives also elaborated on “Idol’s” format its final year.

The show will have a similar structure to its current run, beginning with separate performance and results shows on Wednesdays and Thursdays in January, eventually moving to a Thursday standalone combined show.

Additionally, Newman insisted that he “wouldn’t ever make the proclamation” that Fox is out of the singing competition business, despite making decision to wrap “Idol” not long after “X Factor” limped off the air.