American Idol will finally come to a close next year at the conclusion of its 15th season. The music reality show was once a cultural phenomenon that was consistently the most-watched entertainment show on television in the US. That streak continued for a good nine years, according to the Associated Press, but over the last several years its popularity has dropped precipitously, falling from a series high of 30.8 million viewers per episode in 2006 to a viewership of around 6.5 million viewers, like it saw just one month ago. It's also no secret that the show's cultural power hasn't been quite the same for well over a decade — it's been a long time since Kelly Clarkson broke out during the show's first season, in 2002. The show's decline has been credited, in part, to competition from other music reality shows, like The Voice.
Fox says that American Idol's final run will be a "season-long celebratory event." Ryan Seacrest, the show's staple host, will return, as will Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban, and Harry Connick Jr., who were all judges last season — the original lineup of judges began exiting in its 2010 season. Fox intends for this last run to include tributes to the show's past 14 seasons, though it doesn't say exactly what that'll look like just yet. Perhaps it means that some of the Idols who haven't really been heard from since their season ended will get another chance to perform for a huge audience. It'd be a good chance for Fox to convince the millions of viewers who were once drawn to American Idol to return again, even if only for a few episodes. The season begins in January.