Possible Pay Cut Puts Ryan Seacrest's American Idol Future in Flux: Is He Replaceable?

Seacrest out? As American Idol host Ryan Seacrest enters the final season of his latest, three-year deal with the money-printing Fox megahit, all signs are pointing to the possibility of him being asked to swallow a pay cut and/or him exiting the series in favor of a gig with, perhaps, NBC.

While Seacrest’s most recent deal with Idol‘s producers netted him a cool $45 million over three years, a source tells The Hollywood Reporter, “There’s no way Fremantle and CKx will continue to pay Ryan that kind of money when he can be replaced for $2 million to $3 million.”

And swapping out Idol‘s host isn’t as far-fetched as it may seem, given last season’s rather bump-free transition of judges (adding Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler to the mix).

Seacrest’s possible Plan Bs include his recurring presence on NBC’s Today blooming into him all-out replacing Matt Lauer (should the veteran cohost not agree to a new deal with the morning program). And with Seacrest’s contract with E! Entertainment owner NBC Universal due for renewal soon as well, he could be offered an even sweeter piece of the Peacock pie. As one insider said to THR, “NBC would love to get Ryan out of Idol because they have The Voice…, and NBC is looking for leverage with Lauer.”

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  1. Michael Sacal says:

    I feel so bad for him. Going from earning 45 million dollars to only 2 million dollars.

    Poor guy…

    • blahdeeblah says:

      I don’t know if that was sarcasm or your actual opinion, but I think you have misinterpreted the report. What the report meant was that Seacreast’s replacement can be paid a salary of $2 million to $3 million as opposed to Seacreast’s whooping $45 million.

    • Steve says:

      Sure it would be easy to replace him. Just look at the X-Factor got Steve Jones, incredible talent, and the Voice got whats his name another fantastic talent. Yes it is so easy to do what Ryan does.

      • Sen says:

        This! I never realized how important a host was until I saw Steve RUIN X-Factor.

      • chistosa says:

        The host does make a big difference, not only in what we see but what transpires behind the scenes. Steve from X-Factor is a good example of a horrible host. Cat Deely and Ryan Seacreast are examples of excellent hosts. Certainly experience and the ability to keep the show moving, move judges along in their critiques are skills worth paying more.

        But 45 million for a 3 yr. contract is excessive. He is not curing cancer or fixing the economy.

        • JJ says:

          When you consider the salaries paid to pro athletes or A-List actors for equally short seasons or film shoots, his salary isn’t exorbitant. Tom Cruise makes 15 or 20 mil per film. Some athletes make even more for a season. It’s whatever the traffic will bear. AI is a juggernaut that X-Factor and The Voice can’t touch. Ryan’s worth it.

    • John Berggren says:

      Ryan doesn’t just bring hosting to Idol. He does an incredible amount of promotion on the radio with his show, and within his other television ventures.

      I do think the show would go on without him, but given all the comments about Steve over at X-factor, and the fact that they really couldn’t get someone more “plugged in” for ancillary promos, they’d probably do well to stick with Ryan and not to play too much hardball.

  2. Steve says:

    I say bring in Cat Deeley. She is a way better host in general.

    • Tucker says:

      I think she’s busy with other hosting gigs over in the UK when the U.S. SYTYCD isn’t on. But, yeah, Cat is terrific.

    • Bethany says:

      I would LOVE that.

    • Tarasa says:

      Would love that – she’s the best host – and does live really well.

    • Vivian says:

      This is actually the first thing that pop into my head when the SYTYCD news (result show being cut) broke over the weekend. I am SO GAME for Cat Deeley jumping over to Idol. In fact, I will say let her do it NOW, this season.

    • susela says:

      I’m beginning to understand why Simon is rumored to be trying to get Cat Deeley for “X Factor.” It would not only improve his show but keep her away from “Idol.” however, the more intimate “Idol” is a far better fit for Deeley—I hope she holds out for it, she’s one of the few who could replace Seacrest. (Love him or hate him, he’s really very good at what he does.)

  3. Tucker says:

    No one is irreplaceable, but I will give Seacrest this: He has an ease with which he does his job that is much harder to find in a host than most would think.

  4. Marc says:

    I don’t doubt that Seacrest works hard (Dick Clark has praised his work ethic and sounds like he feels Ryan should get the torch passed onto him for New Year’s Eve anyway) but the guy is one of the most over-rated personalities on television today. Last time I checked, people didn’t watch AI for the host, they watched it for the performances and judges. Let him do more on the Today show where he can justify some drawing power, paying him that kind of money for his minimal role on American Idol is ridiculous though.

    • Tess says:

      True that people watch AI (and any of the singing based competition shows in general) for the performances and the contestants above anything else; but, if hosting one of these shows was easy then anyone could do it. Clearly that isn’t the case or there would’ve been a lot less belly aching over Steve Jones hosting X-Factor this past season or Carson Daly on the Voice.
      Seacrest has grown into the role (let’s be honest, he wasn’t always at the level he’s at now with Idol)and you could say that anyone given time could become comfortable with hosting one of these shows so what’s the big deal and while that may be true, we’re far less paitent to see that happen now as we were with Ryan back in the early Idol years. So assuming people will be fine with hearing someone else draw out the line “This…………….is American Idol” and have no problem with it just because they survived losing Simon might not be a good idea. It would really depend on the person they replace him with and whether the chemistry is still good on the show with the judges and whether they can find a good crop of contestants that first season without him.
      Who would’ve thought though that Randy might be the last one standing from the first season though? I really thought he would’ve gone the way of Dunkelman long before Seacrest.

  5. Michael says:

    He’s not going to take a pay cut.

  6. Drew Melbourne says:

    I’m concerned that anyone they got to replace him wouldn’t leave a big enough pause in the middle when saying “This…

    …is AMERICAN Idol!”

  7. Patrick says:

    Before X-Factor started, my answer was a definitive yes. But after watching Steve Jones muck up that gig, I have a newfound respect for what Ryan does. He still replaceable, but I’d give it another thought or two now.

  8. Shannon says:

    I didn’t realize how good Ryan is at his job, till I watched poor sad Steve on the XFactor. He makes a hard job look effortless.

  9. Larc says:

    Everybody is replaceable, but I think Ryan is the least replaceable on-camera person on Idol. He certainly contributes more of value than the judges do. If there are to be pay cuts, the judges table is the place to start. If they leave, so be it. None of them would be missed as much as Ryan, IMO.

    • lacey says:

      That’s a good point about the judges vs. Ryan. He’s a good host despite always letting AI run-over, but he’s not the show. So if he leaves b/c of a paycut then so be it, but the judges better be having to take paycuts too.

  10. TV Gord says:

    I could see him going to X-Factor to reunite with Simon and Paula. Sure, he’d have to take a pay cut there, as well, but I don’t think it’s about the money with Seacrest; it’s about the appearance.

    He’d be way out of his element on Today.

  11. Danielle H says:

    To the ppl who say everyone is replacable… Simon was not. I stopped watching a long time ago, and yes I get that it still gets numbers, but the dynamic is gone.
    Ryan is one of the hardest working ppl in Hollywood.. he wears like 75 different hats(so many that I think ppl forget about half of them). Is he grating sometimes and sometimes arrogant? Yes. But he’s good at ALL of his jobs. FOX would do well to try and keep him , but they won’t.

  12. Toto says:

    I don’t think Ryan will go to the Today Show as it’s in New York and he has too many balls in the air in LA. As for replacing him on Idol, I hope it doesn’t happen. Maybe cutting him down to 8 to 10 million a year would work for everyone. That being said, if they would change the unlimited voting policy, they’d increase their viewing audience, as most people lose interest when their favorite has little chance against maniacally texting teens. One teen will vote 1000 times, but wont buy 1000 Fords or even 1000 cokes. It’s stupid.

  13. Stacey says:

    He’s not replaceable. If anything, Steven of X Factor shows what makes Ryan so perfect. To me, Ryan might have the upper hand. FOX won’t want to lose him to NBC or possibily to the VOICE assuming Voice manages to make it through this season. He might not get the money he was making. But I envision him getting a pretty big slice. He’s a wanted guy. I can’t see FOX wanting to lose him to another network!

  14. After watching Stevebot on Xfactor, I have a lot more respect for Ryan. He does a good job. And fox is nuts, it is making so much money it can easily afford to pay Ryan what they contracted for… big business is starting to really get our of hand.

  15. Tusk says:

    “And swapping out Idol‘s host isn’t as far-fetched as it may seem, given last season’s rather bump-free transition of judges (adding Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler to the mix).”

    You can’t compare this to the Seacrest situation. AI10 worked because of the talent pool of the Idols. Sure, there were many that tuned in to see how Jlo and Steven would do, but they stayed for the talent: Scotty, Lauren, Haley, James, Casey, Naima, Pia etc…

    • Michael says:

      I think you just made the point Matt was trying to make…

      • Tusk says:

        I guess I should have elaborated. I read the implication of the quoted as, AI can afford to lose Ryan…look at how they were able to lose Simon and bring in Steven and JLo, and had the best numbers they’ve had in a long time. That it was the AI entity that didn’t need Simon and it didn’t matter who replaced him because the entity is that strong.

        My point is, had the contestants been lesser, or more like S9, we might have seen the drop that was predicted, and the addition of Steven and JLo wouldn’t have helped it.

        If they replace Ryan and it fails or sees a downturn, I will bet it will likely be more about a lesser set of contestants, than about viewers leaving because Ryan was dismissed.

        The Depth and Talent of the contestants, in the end, determines the popularity of the show, We saw that recently in XFactor. You cannot convince me that was a deep and talented set of contestants on that show, and the ratings/viewership numbers, in some part, reflected that.

        • chistosa says:

          While I agree with much of your post, I must say that the contestants on the live show for AI10 were there because of the new judges. They decided who moved on to the live shows and they chose well. We can’t forget their role in determining the ones allowed to go on to the live shows for viewers votes. AI9 was bad because the good contestants were eliminated by the judges before the live shows began. So the judges are important as well.

      • Tusk says:

        I guess, now I’ve read it over, is you’re saying that Ryan CAN be replaced as long as the talent pool is good. And I don’t disagree.
        But there is a big difference between what the judges add and what Ryan adds. He keeps the engine rolling and, is somewhat of a an unbiased ‘judge’ the way he calls the judges out on some of their statements, and asks pertinent and sometimes off the wall questions keeping the contestants loose and the reparte fun. And he does it so smoothly. Ryan adds that professionalism that a new ‘needs to be broken in’ host would not have initially.

  16. HEYHEY says:

    No! It’s already different without Simon and Paula, they need Ryan and Randy to keep ties into the original seasons! I will always watch. but Ryan would be missed very much! I hope he sticks around and Fox recognizes his importance to the show!

  17. Rita says:

    Seacrest stinks. Of course he’s replaceable! The show would be so much better without him, too.

  18. Ella says:

    Seacrest might be a diva in his own right, but I think he is one of the best at his job. I didn’t watch Steve on X Factor….yet I have Carson Daly to contend with :-P

    Now, if Ryan would jump ship to NBC and “The Voice”, I would be happy. I just don’t see him qualified to replace Lauer……

  19. QJ201 says:

    American Idol….OUT.

    We can only hope he leaves. Let’s get back to the talent instead of the all about me antics of Ryan and Simon before him.

  20. Dessy says:


  21. David says:

    Idol has become so dated and The Voice and X Factor are so much better. There isn’t any diversity on Idol and the same type of people always end up winning. The judges actually worked against the contestants last year and lost all credibility (except for a slightly meaner Randy). I have never liked Seacrest and this would be a step in the right direction to improving the show. I did like how the host on X Factor kept things moving and there was never an overrun lol!

    • chistosa says:

      Actually I disagree. I did not like the Voice at all. Never could get into it. X-Factor was not a hit for me, or for many as borne out by the ratings. They are a different format but ultimately they are no better than Idol. And how is there no diversity on Idol? They had country (Scotty and Lauren), rock (James), jazz (Haley and Casey), Paul McDonald who had his own sound, Pia with ballads. How was there no diversity? There were several genres of music represented.

  22. dee123 says:

    He inflicts the Kardashians on the world, he deserves some kind of karma.

    • Elizabeth says:


      Sorry, but I’ll save my tears for folks who are looking for just ONE job and aren’t hogging the airwaves on, what, 4 networks, right now?

      There are more fish in the sea and we can highlight their hair and whiten their teeth too…

      • Steven says:

        Who started that THIS thing some people do now when responding to a comment? Cause I hate it! THIS what? If you agree with a comment why not just say you agree because saying THIS makes no sense.

        Now that I have gotten that off my chest – I agree with your comment. I am tired of seeing and hearing him and would welcome someone that’s not all over the place already.

  23. Sam says:

    This is only okay if they replace him with Demot from the UK X-factor. Or Cat Deely.

  24. Travis says:

    Steve Jones was a terrible host and the X-Factor was nothing if not disappointing.

  25. ellie says:

    the only reason i watch the show since they added the new judges was for ryan. besides, idol’s going down anyway. it’s always the same type of singer that wins, and nothings ever new or different.

  26. sandee says:

    I’m sorry but he gets 45 million for what exactly?

  27. stefany says:

    COLD.HARD.FACT. Ryan is the glue that holds AI together. Its been that way for a long time (keeping Simon and Paula in check? Ouch.), ESPECIALLY last season. He’s the one that keeps the audience informed about who is who and whats going on with the show. The judges last season worked well, but he was a big part of that chemistry- remember him in all the promos? He’s the one who tells you what number to dial, and quite frankly, I don’t think a brand new host could command the reliability Ryan has created on AI.

  28. Clarissa says:

    Replace him with Steve Jones plz!

  29. ken says:

    simon & paula leaving took a hit to the show. but like someone else said, he is the glue. he sets the tone. and w/o him i just think they might as well close up shop. tyler and lopez are awful judges, and putting them with randy who was already terrible, i mean… ryan is literally like keeping it together. not that i plan on watching this season (well, undecided for right now).

  30. Grace says:

    Would miss Ryan a lot. I miss Simon on A.I.

  31. jake says:

    People underestimate how important seacrest is — just look at how uninteresting x factor was — they got rid of paula and got its lowest ratings the following season. They have all this simon money that they are not paying to anyone — he was making 45 million per year — so why are they being so stingy with ryan?

    • susela says:

      Ummm, Fox is still paying “all that Simon money” to Simon—probably more now that he’s a producer as well as a judge. The network now has TWO salary-heavy shows with “X Factor” and “Idol,” instead of just one. They’re going to have to cut back somewhere.

  32. me says:

    I hope they keep him on until the show goes off the air cause I really don’t see anyone else hosting Idol like Ryan. Idol still gets the ratings way more than X so Fox would be fools to let Ryan go imo..

  33. Babygate says:

    It baffles me that someone can make that kind of money for doing something as inconsequential as what he does. What is worst, he is astonishingly overrated. He’s the male version of someone like Paris Hilton IMO.

  34. cokehead says:

    Seacrest OUT. Follow the line of cocaïne and you will find him. Seriously.. he is a total tool.

    • chistosa says:

      Everyone is entitled to an opinion. But to childishly insult without any constructive critique is evidence of your limited intellect. Do you know any words that are not right out of Slang 101? Grow up, buy a thesaurus and practice some writing skills.

  35. Brandon says:

    It baffles me that American Idol and Ryan Seacrest are still relevant. The entire AI franchise seems completely arbitrary anyway. Besides Kelly Clarkson’s meager success (which, let’s face it, has dwindled), Christina Underwood’s sappy Jesus song, and Adam Lambert’s hold over club rats, have any winners really achieved anything? Can somebody even use the word “achievement” to describe what other Idol winners have done? I guess I just don’t see the appeal of the show, or the uncharismatic tool that is Ryan Seacrest. Didn’t he have a partner in season 1? What happened to that guy? Really, anybody who knows how to say words can do what Ryan Seacrest does.
    That’s just my not-so-humble opinion, anyway.

    • JJ says:

      Your post is wrong on so many levels, it’s hard to decide where to start. Kelly Clarkson is winning awards now, a decade after her win on Idol. It’s Carrie Underwood, not Christine. If you’re going to opine in a public forum, at least check your material. Adam Lambert has had a very successful World tour and pre sales for his new album are through the roof. And he wasn’t even the winner for his season. All of that being said, if you have such disdain for the show, it’s staff and alumni, why would you read the article and spend time posting a lengthy insult? Either you are not as indifferent as you posit or you are merely desperate for attention. Sad.

    • chistosa says:

      Brandon, your not so humble opinion is just that with no facts to back it up. First mistake, many of the former Idols have been highly successful. Even many of those who never made the finals are making a comfortable living doing what they love. They are traveling the world performing in a variety of venues and making fans happy. The perform, sing, act and have carved out a nice for themselves. Not everyone is going to be Mick Jagger but these Idols have forged successful careers in the business. What do you do to justify your not so humble opinion about those lucky enough to do what they love and get paid for it?
      Secondly, hosting is quite a difficult job. Do you ever have to manage many balls in the air, keeping things going, diffusing conflicts, explaining decisions all with grace and charm? I didn’t think so. Perhaps you can learn some facts before you “inflict” your not so humble opinion on those who know more than you.

  36. Mitch says:

    He’s making 15 million dollars a year to work less than 5 hours a week, for less than a quarter of that year … and he can’t even pronounce half the words he speaks? Guess that gives hope for people with speech impediments everywhere.

    • Mike says:

      Funny, I never noticed him pronouncing words incorrectly.

    • susela says:

      Seacrest travels to all the auditions, is ever-present at Hollywood week, and believe me, works more than just the five hours the show is live every week. I’ve never been that fond of him, but he works hard and is quite skillful. Last season he was at his best; all that homophobic back-and-forth with Simon was getting really old.

  37. waffles says:

    Ryan is so good at what he does, he makes his job look easy. But as so many have pointed out, Steve Jones was so awful his presence hurt X-Factor which I didn’t like in the first place. Considering how much money Idol makes, I suspect they will be able to make some sort of deal to keep Ryan that won’t be an insult to him. Ryan’s salary isn’t based on the hours he logs. It’s based on the entertainment value he brings to the screen and as goofy as he is sometime, he does bring some value. That said, if he goes, I’m all for Cat Deeley taking his place.

  38. Abe Froman says:

    I can’t believe the amount of money people throw at him. He’s really just a mediocre host. But Idol will survive without him. Simon Cowell was more integral to the show and it did just fine.

  39. D says:

    I don’t know what the big deal is with Seacrest to begin with. Sure he does a good job, but is he worth 15 mil a year, no. Don’t be too sad peeps if he looses that job, he still seems to be everywhere, so he’ll survive.

  40. Crispin Lee says:

    We just saw this Thursday night what happens when you replace too much of a show. Look at Project Runway (which I was shocked to see was without Tim, Heidi, and all the judges). While the contestants were the only thing “runway” since they were all-stars… The show felt too different. Too much changed all at once where it doesn’t even feel like runway anymore… Just one of the knockoffs that several different networks tried. This should be a prime example of how important a host is. It makes you appreciate what Ryan brings to Idol. Cat would be the only suitable replacement… But someone needs to go save X Factor. Steve made me cringe.

  41. IdolFlash-7-9-35 says:

    Based on how successful last season was with the major changes at the judging table, I do believe American Idol can survive without Ryan. However, I don’t think it should go on much longer, especially if Ryan leaves. There have been so many changes to the market and the music industry since the show began that it’s trying too hard to stay relevant, and there are so many singing competition shows on television now that it’s time to retire the original. I’ve heard that FOX has renewed the show until after Season 12 (2013), and as ridiculously obsessed as I am with it, I think that’s a good place to call it quits and make more room on stage for the other shows (The Voice, The X Factor, etc.)
    By the way, does anybody know how many seasons shows like Idol usually last? I’m not an expert on the world of TV producing.