How American Idol Will Keep Airing New Episodes Despite Coronavirus Shutdown

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(Image credit: ABC)

Like many other TV shows in recent weeks, American Idol had to halt production due to the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Unlike many other shows, however, Idol was facing the transition between pre-taped episodes and live episodes, which meant that Idol was running out of new content faster than a lot of scripted series also facing shutdown. Now, American Idol has come up with a way to air new episodes despite having to nix the live shows, which were set to take over on April 6.

To compensate for the loss of the live shows option, ABC will air installments of American Idol: This is Me that will use unseen footage and performance highlights to look back at the remaining top 20 competitors, according to Deadline. There is evidently enough material for two This is Me installments, airing April 12 and April 19. There are no details about what Idol is going to do for drama once it runs out of This is Me material.

That said, ABC is taking additional steps to stretch what remains of pre-taped American Idol footage. The next two Hawaii showcase episodes were originally scheduled to air Sunday, March 29 and Monday, March 30. The schedule has been tweaked, with one episode airing March 29 as planned and the other pushed back to April 5.

To compensate for the schedule change, ABC's primetime lineup on March 30 will be filled in with a rerun of Celebrity Family Feud at 8 p.m. ET and a COVID-19-centric special edition of 20/20 at 9 p.m., followed by the deadly third season finale of The Good Doctor in its usual Monday night time slot of 10 p.m. ET.

The live shows scheduled for Monday, April 6 will also be replaced by some non-American Idol offerings. Not one but two repeats of Celebrity Family Feud are in store on April 6, followed by the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Secrets & Surprises special courtesy of ABC News.

While the exact schedule tweaks and This is Me substitutions are certainly fresh pieces of news for fans of the series dreading the day it runs out of content, they're not altogether surprising.

Many reality shows undoubtedly have plenty of unused footage that could be recycled for special presentations, and the remaining American Idol contestants were sent home after the coronavirus outbreak forced a halt to the preparation for the live shows. Editing of the remaining Idol episodes reportedly has happened courtesy of employees working remotely.

So, American Idol fans have more weeks of content remaining than if ABC hadn't tweaked the schedule to spread out the broadcasts of the two remaining pre-taped episodes and the two This is Me installments, but American Idol may run out of content sooner rather than later if the situation with the coronavirus and its impact on the entertainment industry doesn't change significantly sooner rather than later.

Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for the latest in TV and Movie news, and be sure to check out our updated list of major TV show delays or ending early due to coronavirus.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).