Though he was a fresh-faced twentysomething when American Idol kicked off back in 2002, host Ryan Seacrest is now a 41-year-old who occasionally rocks an 11:00 p.m. shadow kind of facial hair. And while we all thought that this would be his final year on the reality show’s stage, Seacrest doesn’t seem all that convinced that American Idol is going away for all that long.
When you’ve got a franchise that has this kind of heritage … and generates X amount of millions of people and sustains — does that mean it’s the end? I’m not so sure.

Of course, Seacrest saying that doesn’t necessarily mean that Fox execs have been walking the halls while openly discussing a future return of American Idol once Season 15 comes to a close. He would be one of the people to have access to inside information like that, so it’s entirely possible, but he could just be speaking from a place of loyalty to the show, while also recognizing that shows return from the abyss pretty regularly these days. Ryan Seacrest is no dummy.

Seacrest made this observation at this year’s TCA press tour, on stage alongside fellow American Idol faces Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick, Jr. and Keith Urban. He cited the ratings for Season 15’s early episodes as a great thing, giving thanks to those that may have come back after they stopped watching previously. I don’t think anyone is denying that there would still be people around that were willing to continue watching the show if it came back, especially if it took a couple of years off. People love when things return.

But the ratings really aren’t that great, all things relatively considered. The non-Clay Aiken-approved season opener was watched by almost 11 million people, which is huge for plenty of other shows on TV, but it’s still lower than Season 14’s premiere. And Season 14 sunk to the kind of lows that caused Fox to pull the plug and adjust the episode count. The show needs to be able to keep a sustained audience turnout, but Episode 4 on Wednesday was already down over 2 million viewers from the premiere a week earlier. Sure, it’ll probably pick back up once the auditions are over and some returning judges come back, but what if this swan song season can’t even top last year’s terrible finale ratings? Vacation time!

When asked if they would be up for a return after this year, everyone was sketchy about their answers. According to EW, Lopez said it’s “something I’d always consider,” while Seacrest just said he’s obsessed with the show and what it’s done, and Connick, Jr. said he’s too excited about what’s happening this year to even think about it. Make of that what you will.

American Idol airs on Wednesday and Thursday nights on Fox. Would you guys keep watching if it returned?

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