We’re just a few days away from the 11th season premiere of American Idol – and there’s a new rumor doing the rounds at the moment. Is long time Idol host Ryan Seacrest on the way out – set to be replaced by a cheaper alternative?

As everyone knows, Ryan has been with the Idol franchise since day one and along with Randy Jackson is the only remaining member of the original on camera team. Co-host Brian Dunkleman famously departed after season 1, judge Paula Abdul left at the end of Season 8 and Idol’s main mean man Simon Cowell split in 2010 after 9 seasons with the show.

Through it all the Idol juggernaut has remained as strong as ever – still regularly pulling in audiences in excess of 20 million on a weekly basis. So now apparently Fox are starting to wonder if Seacrest is really essential to the franchise. With a salary of $15 million a year and a deal that expires at the end of the new season, the network are reportedly wondering if they could opt for a cheaper host going forwards. But is Fox risking its smash hit franchise in order to save (quite a few) bucks? More >