ABC/Craig Sjodin(LOS ANGELES) — We already knew that American Idol’s new season on ABC would feature returning judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie, but host Ryan Seacrest was still a question mark. Now, that question has been answered…in the affirmative.

Seacrest will return as host when the new season of the show starts on ABC next year.  He’s been hosting the show since it first started in 2002.  In a statement, he says, “American Idol has been my home for 17 seasons and I can’t wait to return to the stage.”

He adds, “It’s the greatest gift to be able to play a part in discovering new talent with a franchise that has been such a relevant part of American culture for so many years.”

Karey Burke, president of ABC Entertainment, says of Seacrest, “The energy and enthusiasm he brings to the show after 17 seasons are remarkable.” 

American Idol executive producer Trish Kinane adds, “His passion for the show is evident, and we couldn’t imagine searching for the next generation of superstars without him.”

The American Idol nationwide audition tour wraps up this Saturday in Chicago, IL.  You can also submit audition videos online or via social media using the hashtag #TheNextIdol.  Visit for more details.

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