Ryan Seacrest will be back hosting "American Idol" when it returns for its first season on ABC. Kelly Ripa made the announcement on Thursday's "Live with Kelly and Ryan," which she has co-hosted with Seacrest since he joined her in May.
"I am happy to confirm ... that Ryan Seacrest is returning as the host of 'American Idol,'" said Ripa as the studio audience whooped.
"I don't know if you've ever been in a 15-year relationship and then, for a reason that you really don't know, you break up," he said. "I thought, 'Gosh, it would be great to get back together at some point.'"
Seacrest had a grand history with "Idol" during its smash-hit run on Fox from 2002 through 2016. Reclaiming that job now gives him an additional role in the Disney family, which owns ABC and produces the syndicated "Live."
His potential return to "Idol" had sparked much speculation since ABC announced in May that it would revive the talent competition. The program airs from Los Angeles and "Live" airs weekday mornings from New York. But the 42-year-old Seacrest is no stranger to a packed work schedule and cross-country flights.
"You can have all the tickets you want," he told Ripa, "and you can come back and forth with me any weekend."
Seacrest will also continue his syndicated Los Angeles morning-drive-time radio show, as well as a nationally syndicated Top 40 radio show, from his iHeartMedia studio in the same Manhattan complex where "Live" is telecast. He also hosts and executive produces ABC's annual "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest," and is a busy producer of series in which he doesn't appear, including "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" and its many spin-offs.
ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey called Seacrest's talent "limitless, and I can't think of a more appropriate person to honor the 'Idol' legacy as it takes on new life than the man who has been there through it all."
On Fox, "Idol" dominated TV in the 2000s and minted stars like Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson and Kelly Clarkson, while making its judges, such as Randy Jackson and Simon Cowell, household names. It was the No. 1 series for nine years, peaking with 30 million viewers each episode in 2006. But by its last season the average audience had dipped to 11 million and skewed older, and NBC's "The Voice" surpassed it in popularity. Fox eliminated it. Even so, in today's television world, an audience of 11 million would rank it among TV's top 20 shows, a fact that clearly didn't escape ABC's notice.
On the final Fox edition, a hopeful Seacrest told viewers, "Goodbye — for now."
The nationwide search for the first ABC-aired "Idol" begins next month. ABC has not announced a premiere date.