American Idol (also known as American Idol: The Search for a Superstar) is a reality television singing competition created by Simon Fuller and produced by FremantleMedia North America and 19 Entertainment, which began airing on Fox on June 11, 2002. Part of the Idol franchise, it is a spin-off from the UK show Pop Idol. The concept of the series is to find new solo recording artists, and has since become one of the most popular in the history of American television. As of January 2011, it is the most-watched TV series in the Nielsen ratings and is the only program to have been number one for six consecutive seasons, surpassing All in the Family and The Cosby Show, which were both number one for five consecutive seasons.
The program aims to discover the best singer in the country where the winner is determined by the viewers. Through telephone, Internet, and SMS text voting, viewers have chosen as winners Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard, Fantasia Barrino, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Hicks, Jordin Sparks, David Cook, Kris Allen, and Lee DeWyze (listed in chronological order).
The series employs a panel of judges who critique the contestants' performances. The original three judges were Grammy Award-winning record producer and music manager Randy Jackson, Grammy Award-winning pop singer and Emmy Award-winning choreographer Paula Abdul and award-winning music executive and music manager Simon Cowell. Since January 2011, the judging panel currently consists of Jackson, award-winning singer/actress and record producer Jennifer Lopez and Aerosmith frontman and Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Steven Tyler. For all seasons the show has been hosted by radio disc jockey Ryan Seacrest.