By Melissa Fares
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Ryan Seacrest confirmed on Thursday that he will return as host of "American Idol," the most popular music reality show in U.S. television history, when it comes back to the screen on ABC TV in 2018.
After much anticipation and speculation, Seacrest, who served as host of the talent competition show during its initial 15-season run that ended in April 2016, confirmed the news on "Live with Kelly and Ryan" Thursday morning.
"Is it OK if I announce this big news?" talk show host Kelly Ripa asked Seacrest, who was seated next to her. "I've been waiting and waiting."
With a nod from Seacrest, Ripa said, "We've been talking about it for a little while, but I am happy to confirm ... that Ryan Seacrest is returning as the host of 'American Idol,'" prompting cheers from the studio audience.
Seacrest has co-hosted ABC's morning talk show with Ripa since May.
The radio and TV personality, who will continue to host "Live with Kelly and Ryan" from New York, said he was "very, very excited" about reprising his "American Idol" duties. He will also remain as host and executive producer of his syndicated radio program "On Air With Ryan Seacrest" from Los Angeles.
"It's genuinely hard to put into words what 'American Idol' means to me," Seacrest, 42, said in a statement. "I'm so grateful for the show and all the career and life opportunities it's allowed me to experience."
The show, which was canceled by Fox Television last year, was once a ratings powerhouse, watched by more than 30 million viewers at its peak in 2005-2007.
The glitzy talent show that launched the careers of Kelly Clarkson, Adam Lambert, Jennifer Hudson and others - spiced with celebrity judges who alternately feuded and fawned - eventually fell victim to declining ratings.
Within the United States, the "American Idol" phenomenon spawned a host of competing shows such as NBC's "The Voice," CBS's "Rock Star", and Fox's "The X Factor."
Pop star Katy Perry, who is set to judge the next generation of artists on the show, took to Twitter to express her excitement about the news and sing the praises of Seacrest.
"I'm spicy, @RyanSeacrest is seasoned!" wrote Perry. "All the right ingredients are coming together on @AmericanIdol."
(Reporting by Melissa Fares in New York; Editing by Matthew Lewis)