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Seacrest In: Host Signs Two-Year ‘American Idol’ Pact

Fox retains the services of a very busy emcee
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Ryan Seacrest has agreed to host two more seasons of American Idol, signing a contract extension that will keep him in the Fox fold through the 2014 campaign.

Seacrest’s current pact was set to expire after this season, the show’s 11th.

While financial terms were not disclosed, numerous sources say that Seacrest will earn a salary of $15 million per season—the same amount he signed on for when he last renewed his Idol contract in 2009.

Idol may be Seacrest’s most visible gig—he’s been the show's emcee since it launched in 2002—but it represents just one of his many media ventures. The 37-year-old also serves as managing editor and lead anchor of E! News and hosts the weekly syndicated radio program American Top 40 and a morning drive-time show on Clear Channel’s KIIS-FM in Los Angeles.

Seacrest—who seemingly has the ability to manipulate the laws of time and space—produces a number of E! reality series, including Keeping Up With the Kardashians and its various spinoffs. He’ll also have a hand in NBC’s prime-time Summer Olympics coverage from London.

All told, the multi-hyphenate boasts a net worth of some $125 million, per Forbes.

“For the last 11 seasons, I’ve had the privilege to be a part of one of television’s most iconic shows,” Seacrest said, by way of announcing the extension. “It’s been a wild ride, and I’m excited for my journey with American Idol to continue.”

For his part, Fox president of alternative entertainment Mike Darnell indicated that he could not imagine doing Idol without Seacrest. “Ryan is one of a kind,” Darnell said. “His ability to engage the viewers, keep the contestants at ease during intense moments and adapt to any situation, especially during the live shows, solidifies him as the absolute best in the business.”

While much has been made of Idol’s inexorable decline—the showcase now draws a little more than half the 30.3 million viewers it averaged in its highest-rated season (2006)—the series remains the biggest draw on TV, aside from the NFL.

Season to date, Idol’s Wednesday night show is averaging 18.2 million viewers and a 5.6 in the adults 18-49 demo. The Thursday night results show is averaging 16.8 million viewers and a 4.9 rating in the dollar demo.

Idol has aged considerably since Season 1, when it boasted a median age of 31.9 years. Per Nielsen, Season 11 has a median age of 50.1 years.

Despite all the wear and tear—and it’s worth noting that Idol’s ratings decline coincides with a decade that saw broadcast’s share of adults 18-49 plummet from 49 percent to 32 percent—Fox’s musical competition show remains the most sought-after series on the dial. The unit cost of a 30-second spot during the Wednesday night show is around $505,000 a pop, while the Thursday results show fetches around $475,000 per ad.

Just five weeks remain before an 11th Idol is crowned. The season finale will air Wed., May 23.