American Idol parent 19 Entertainment has signed host Ryan Seacrest to an unprecedented 3-year, $45 million deal to host the show and/or any show that succeeds it.
It's a recession and American Idol's ratings have been in decline for the past few seasons, but the new deal still triples Seacrest's salary from the last season of the show. Best of all for Seacrest, the deal will still allow him to do his cable show.
So here's the question: Is $15 million a year too much for Ryan Seacrest? I think it is.The Hollywood Reporter's Matthew Belloni tells CNBC that "It's all relative in this situation because the $45 million number might be eye popping but if you look at the amount of money that American Idol generates. . . it's really not that amazing when you consider the context."
But the question is whether Seacrest is really that much of a value add for the show. As ubiquitous as he is, is anyone reading this a Ryan Seacrest fan? Does anyone reading this know a Ryan Seacrest fan?
Ryan Seacrest does not make the show, and it's hard to imagine that the ratings would decline further if Seacrest were replaced. He's been with the show forever, but he certainly doesn't define it the way that Simon Cowell does.
One possible indicator of Seacrest's popularity: His Facebook fan page has just over 55,000 followers. CNN's Anderson Cooper has more than 180,000 and Kathy Griffin -- who hosts a show on basic cable -- has more than 330,000 fans. For all of American Idol's popularity, Seacrest hasn't really succeeded in building a major cult following of his own, and that makes a $45 million contract seem like a stretch.
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