July 23 (Bloomberg) -- Fox’s “American Idol,” one of the most-watched U.S. television shows, added pop singer Mariah Carey as a judge for the series’ 12th season, following the departures of Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez this month.
The five-time Grammy Award-winning singer would join Randy Jackson in the new season, which begins in January, if his contract is renewed. “Idol” may have a rotating cast of judges in future seasons, Kevin Reilly, Fox’s entertainment president, said today at a TV critics conference in Beverly Hills, California.
Carey will be the eighth judge in the history of “Idol,” which features amateur singers aiming to become pop stars. While the competition has led in viewership over the past nine seasons, Fox faces a challenge from other talent shows, such as NBC Universal’s “The Voice,” which threaten to topple it from its perch.
“Ratings were down last season,” Reilly said at the event. “We’re not the only game in town anymore. We felt we needed to make some changes to keep things fresh.”
Audiences want to see new faces in the judges’ seats, he said. The hiring of Carey will give “Idol” a singer “who many contestants try to emulate,” Reilly said. Carey has recorded more No. 1 songs than any solo artist in history, according to News Corp.-owned Fox. The other judges will be named in the coming weeks, Reilly said.
“The Voice” also features recording artists as judges, including Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green and Blake Shelton.
News Corp. shares fell 0.8 percent to $21.82 at the close in New York. The Class A stock has gained 22 percent this year, ranking fifth in the 16-stock S&P 500 Media Index.
To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Sherman in New York at email@example.com