American Idol, titled American Idol: The Search for a Superstar for the first season, is a reality television singing competition created by Simon Fuller and produced by FremantleMedia North America and 19 Entertainment. It began airing on Fox on June 11, 2002, as an addition to the Idol franchise based on the UK show Pop Idol, and has since become one of the most successful shows in the history of American television. It was the most watched TV series from 2005 to 2011 in the Nielsen ratings, and it is the only program to have been number one for seven consecutive seasons.
The concept of the series is to find new solo recording artists where the winner is determined by the viewers. Winners chosen by viewers through telephone, Internet, and SMS text voting were Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard, Fantasia Barrino, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Hicks, Jordin Sparks, David Cook, Kris Allen, Lee DeWyze, Scotty McCreery and Phillip Phillips.
The series employs a panel of judges who critique the contestants' performances. The original three judges were record producer and music manager Randy Jackson, pop singer and choreographer Paula Abdul and music executive and manager Simon Cowell. The upcoming season 12's judging panel consists of Jackson, R&B singer Mariah Carey, hip hop artist Nicki Minaj, and country singer Keith Urban. The series is emceed by radio personality Ryan Seacrest.
The series was described by a rival TV executive as "the most impactful show in the history of television." It has also become a recognized springboard for launching the career of many artists as bona fide stars. According to Billboard, in its first ten years, "Idol has spawned 345 Billboard chart-toppers and a platoon of pop idols, including Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Daughtry, Fantasia, Ruben Studdard, Jennifer Hudson, Clay Aiken, Adam Lambert and Jordin Sparks while remaining TV ratings juggernaut."
Read more about American Idol: History, Judges and Hosts, Selection Process, Series Overview and Season Synopses, Geographical, Ethnic, and Gender Bias, Controversy, Idol Gives Back, Television Ratings, Critical Reception, Revenue and Commercial Ventures, Theme Park Attraction, International Broadcast, Spin-offs