American Idol returns to US television screens tonight, amidst a networking battle that is near to saturation point with singing talent contests. Ryan Seacrest will be returning as the show's host and the bosses at the Fox network will no doubt be hoping that this will ensure the programme's continuing popularity. Since 2006, the show has been the US' top-rated of the entertainment shows but with the next season of The Voice starting at the end of February, with star mentors such as Christina Aguilera on-board, American Idol still has a lot to live up to.
According to a report in LA Times, Randy Jackson told reporters last week that, when they started American Idol, "we kind of invented this whole game that everybody is now copying." Joining Jackson on the judging panel will be the Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler and pop singer Jennifer Lopez. The Fox network seems not to have adopted Simon Cowell's tactics of judge-switching to keep the viewers interested for this season, so will be relying on the lure of the existing cast to keep viewers tuning into what has now become a familiar format.
Cowell has made a fortune from exporting tried & tested UK shows over to the States, which now has its own America's Got Talent show as well as a US version of X Factor. However, his inaugural season of X Factor did not go to plan, possibly due to his choice of host - the Welsh TV presenter Steve Jones, who was not well-received by US audiences and former American Idol judge Paula Abdul. Rumours regarding Ryan SeacrestS's plans to stay on Idol have been circulating for some time now. Fox may well need to start searching for a new host if this season's ratings go the same way as X Factor's. They'll be banking on the continued presence of the popular host to ensure the show's success.