Television network ABC silenced rumors about Luke Bryan's future with American Idol on Monday (Aug. 5) by announcing that the country star will return for a third season alongside fellow judges Katy Perry and Lionel Richie.
In addition, country radio personality Bobby Bones will once again appear as contestants' in-house mentor.
"'American Idol' is the original music competition series," said Karey Burke, president of ABC Entertainment, in a statement quoted by Entertainment Weekly. "It was the first of its kind to take everyday singers and catapult them into superstardom, launching the careers of so many amazing artists. We couldn't be more excited for Katy, Luke, Lionel, and Bobby to continue in their roles as 'American Idol' searches for the next great music star, with more live episodes and exciting, new creative elements coming this season."
The announcement quiets speculation--for now, at least--about whether or not rumored cost-cutting measures meant the show needed to part ways with its celebrity judges. The Wall Street Journal reported that in its first year on ABC, the three American Idol judges plus host Ryan Seacrest made a combined $59 million. Per Variety, Perry alone makes $25 million per year from the show.
The competition series' 18th season overall and third since the move from Fox to ABC begins in spring 2020. Contestant auditions are currently happening in major cities though Sept. 21. Audition dates of note include Aug. 27 in Waco, Texas, Aug. 29 in Knoxville, Tn. and Sept. 18 in Nashville, Tenn. For more audition sites and information on how to try out online, visit the show's website.
American Idol's contributions include not just three of the series' biggest success stories in Carrie Underwood, Scotty McCreery and Kelly Clarkson but also former contestants Kellie Pickler, Lauren Alaina and Kree Harrison.