American Idol

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American Idol
Premiere June 11, 2002
Finale April 7, 2016
Creator Simon Fuller
Host Ryan Seacrest
Brian Dunkelman (season 1)
Network FOX
Style 120-minute competitive reality
Company Fremantle Media North America,
19 Television
Seasons 15
Episodes 571
Origin USA
Official Twitter @AmericanIdol
Official Facebook American Idol
For more information on the Idol franchise worldwide, please refer to the Idol franchise page.

American Idol is a popular musical-based talent competition that aired on FOX. The show is a season-long talent search for America's best singer to become the next "American Idol". The process involves an elimination format of several audition episodes and semi-finals rounds to determine a group of 10-13 finalists that compete in weekly themed live rounds until one finalist is crowned the winner. For eight seasons, it was the highest rated program in the United States, routinely doubling the ratings of comparable juggernauts CSI and Desperate Housewives with ratings of up to 30 million viewers.

Due to its huge popularity, American Idol has seen more than its fair share of controversies and dissent, but despite a handful of negative publicity, both media and viewer attention are unwavering. Over the years, the show has gained the support of many well-known stars, with numerous appearances onstage and as mentors to the contestants. The winners of American Idol usually receive the biggest amount of success out of all reality show winners, with the original winner, Kelly Clarkson, receiving worldwide renown as a singer. Other prominent winners include Fantasia, Carrie Underwood, and Phillip Phillips. Several non-winners have also received considerable success post-show, notably Chris Daughtry and Jennifer Hudson.

The judges panel stayed consistent for the first seven years, featuring Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson, with a fourth judge, Kara DioGuardi added in the eighth season. However, after the show's eighth season, Abdul decided not to renew her contract, leading to her being replaced by Ellen DeGeneres. The judging panel of Cowell, DeGeneres, DioGuardi and Jackson only lasted for one year, after which Cowell, DeGeneres and DioGuardi all left, leaving only Jackson as a veteran judge. Singer/actress Jennifer Lopez and Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler joining Jackson for a revitalized tenth season and continuing into the eleventh. Lopez and Tyler left after the eleventh season and were replaced by country singer Keith Urban, hip-hop rapper Nicki Minaj, and music legend Mariah Carey. After a tumultuous season plaqued by controversies and sharply declining ratings, Minaj, Carey, and Jackson left the show. In the currently airing thirteenth season, Urban is joined by singer Harry Connick Jr. and Lopez, returning after a one-year absence.

The series is based on Pop Idol, the original UK version of the show. Contemporaries of the Idol franchise include Endemol production The Voice and Simon Cowell's The X Factor.



Actor   Duration
Judges 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
Simon Cowell  
Paula Abdul  
Randy Jackson  
Kara DioGuardi  
Ellen DeGeneres  
Steven Tyler  
Jennifer Lopez  
Mariah Carey  
Nicki Minaj  
Keith Urban  
Harry Connick, Jr.  
Orange/Red/o indicates a recurring or guest role during that season.
Dark Green indicates top billing during that season.


Season Premiere Finale #
Season One June 11, 2002 September 23, 2002 25 + 1
Season Two January 21, 2003 May 25, 2003 38 + 1
Season Three January 19, 2004 May 24, 2004 42 + 1
Season Four January 18, 2005 May 25, 2005 42 + 1
Season Five January 17, 2006 May 24, 2006 41
Season Six January 16, 2007 May 23, 2007 41
Season Seven January 15, 2008 May 21, 2008 42
Season Eight January 13, 2009 May 20, 2009 40
Season Nine January 12, 2010 May 26, 2010 43
Season Ten January 19, 2011 May 26, 2011 42
Season Eleven January 18, 2012 May 23, 2012 40
Season Twelve January 16, 2013 May 16, 2013 37
Season Thirteen January 15, 2014 May 21, 2014 39
Season Fourteen January 7, 2015 May 12, 2015 30
Season Fifteen January 6, 2016 April 7, 2016 38 + 1


DVD Releases

Title Release Date #
Individual Episodes
Season 6 Finale Performance Show: The Top 2 May 13, 2008 2


Segment Collection
The Search for a Superstar October 15, 2002 1


The Best of American Idol: Seasons 1-4 November 22, 2005 1


The Worst of American Idol: Seasons 1-4 November 22, 2005 1


The Best & Worst of American Idol: Seasons 1-4 November 22, 2005 3


External Sites