Ellen DeGeneres will leave “American Idol,” the Fox talent show that has dominated U.S. ratings for seven years, after being a judge for one season.
“This didn’t feel like the right fit for me,” DeGeneres said today in a statement e-mailed by the News Corp. broadcast network. “While I love discovering, supporting and nurturing young talent, it was hard for me to judge people and sometimes hurt their feelings.”
DeGeneres’s departure comes amid other changes at the show, which saw ratings drop about 9 percent last season and is losing sharp-tongued judge Simon Cowell to a new talent contest on Fox. The network has talked to Nigel Lythgoe about returning as executive producer of “Idol,” the New York Times reported on July 27.
“We love Ellen and understand and support her decision to bow out,” Peter Rice, entertainment chairman at Fox Networks, said in the statement.
“American Idol” was the most-watched prime-time program in the broadcast TV season that ended in May. The twice-weekly talent contest averaged 24.9 million viewers on Tuesday nights and 23.7 million on Wednesday nights. The show was also the most popular program among the 18-to-49 year-old viewers that advertisers target.
Cowell said in January he would leave “Idol” to host a U.S. version of the music competition “X Factor,” which he created in the U.K. He will be an executive producer and a judge.
Fox hasn’t announced a replacement for Cowell. TV networks are previewing shows at the Television Critics Association in Beverly Hills, California. Fox’s presentation is Aug. 2.