UPDATE: Fox executives explained the network's decision to cancel "American Idol" after its fifteenth season on a conference call with industry reporters on Monday. According to EW, Fox Co-Chairman/ Co-CEO Gary Newman said, "You know, it was not an easy decision. 'American Idol' has been such a vital part of Fox for its run and we spent a lot of time talking with producers about the future of 'American Idol' and collectively we arrived at the conclusion that it was time to bring the show to an end.”
Newman and other Co-Chairman/ Co-CEO Dana Walden emphasized the celebratory aspect of the show's final season and Newman called it a "true season-long celebration." He said, "We’re already talking about surprises we can have for the fans to make it feel special and make send it off that makes it as significant as the run it’s had on our network."
EARLIER: Fox has just ushered in the end of an era. The network announced on Monday that the forthcoming season of "American Idol" will be the show's last. "American Idol" Season 15 will begin airing in January 2016 and will feature longtime host Ryan Seacrest and current judges Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick, Jr. The final episodes will pay tribute to past contestants, winners and fans throughout the season, serving as a "celebratory event."
"American Idol" has been a staple in Fox's lineup since it debuted in 2002 with original judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson. Other famous judges have included Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and Steven Tyler. It was also the major launching pad for Seacrest, whose face became a fixture on TV, and dozens of singers including Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson, Kelly Clarkson, Jordin Sparks, Phillip Phillips, Adam Lambert, Chris Daughtry and Katharine McPhee.
Last season, the show was paired with ratings megahit "Empire," and on the first night without the show, "Idol" dropped 26 percent in the ratings.