At one point it was the most popular reality in U.S. TV history, but ‘American Idol’ is coming to an end. Fox announced today that the upcoming fifteenth season would be the final one.

At the peak of its popularity, ‘American Idol’ was watched by more than 30 million viewers, and helped launch the careers of the likes of Kelly Clarkson, Jordin Sparks and Carrie Underwood. However, its ratings have waned over recent years, and Fox have decided to pull the plug.

Kelly ClarksonKelly Clarkson won the first season of 'American Idol' in 2002

Crucially, it was overtaken last year in the public’s consciousness by NBC’s rival singing competition ‘The Voice’, for whose finale 11.6 million people tuned in. By comparison, ‘American Idol’ got only 10.6 million.

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The final season will be hosted by the ever-present Ryan Seacrest, and the panel of judges will feature Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick, Jr, Fox said in a statement. Since 2009, original judges Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson have all left, and a procession of guest judges have filled in on the show since then, including Steven Tyler and Ellen DeGeneres.

The news is not entirely unexpected, as it was announced back in February 2014 that Fox was going to wind down ‘American Idol’ after a steady decline in viewing figures that led to a fall in advertising revenue. “We've known it's coming to the end” said Chase Carey, president of 21st Century Fox, at the time.

A phenomenon when it was launched as a spin-off of British reality show ‘Pop Idol’, it helped spawn a host of imitators, such as ‘The Voice’, CBS’ ‘Rock Show’ and ‘The X Factor’, itself on Fox. All good things must come to an end, however, and a fifteen season stretch from 2002 to the present is hugely impressive when you consider that such formats become stale quite quickly.

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