American Idol is an American singing competition television series created by Simon Fuller, produced by FremantleMedia North America and 19 Entertainment, and distributed by FremantleMedia North America. It began airing on Fox on June 11, 2002, and ended its first-run on April 7, 2016. In 2018, the show will make its debut on ABC. It started off as an addition to the Idols format based on the British series Pop Idol, and became one of the most successful shows in the history of American television. The concept of the series involves discovering recording stars from unsigned singing talents, with the winner determined by the viewers in America through telephones, Internet, and SMS text voting. Winners chosen by viewers in its fifteen seasons were Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard, Fantasia, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Hicks, Jordin Sparks, David Cook, Kris Allen, Lee DeWyze, Scotty McCreery, Phillip Phillips, Candice Glover, Caleb Johnson, Nick Fradiani, and Trent Harmon.
American Idol employed a panel of judges who critiqued the contestants' performances. The original judges were record producer and music manager Randy Jackson, pop singer and choreographer Paula Abdul and music executive and manager Simon Cowell. The judging panel for the final seasons on Fox consisted of country singer Keith Urban, singer and actress Jennifer Lopez, and jazz singer Harry Connick, Jr. The first season was hosted by radio personality Ryan Seacrest and comedian Brian Dunkleman, with Seacrest as the sole master of ceremonies for the rest of the series.
The success of American Idol has been described as "unparalleled in broadcasting history". The series was also said by a rival TV executive to be "the most impactful show in the history of television". It became a recognized springboard for launching the career of many artists as bona fide stars. According to Billboard magazine, in its first ten years, "Idol has spawned 345 Billboard chart-toppers and a platoon of pop idols, including Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Katharine McPhee, Chris Daughtry, Fantasia, Ruben Studdard, Jennifer Hudson, Clay Aiken, Adam Lambert and Jordin Sparks while remaining a TV ratings juggernaut."
For an unprecedented eight consecutive years, from the 2003–04 television season through the 2010–11 season, either its performance or result show had been ranked number one in U.S. television ratings.