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‘American Idol’ season 20: Everything you need to know about ABC’s singing competition

American Idol
(Image credit: ABC)

Warm up your vocal chords America, because there will be an American Idol season 20. The popular singing competition has gotten the greenlight for its fifth season on ABC — after originally airing on Fox.

The most recent season of American Idol premiered in February, with Chayce Beckham being voted as the winner over Grace Kintsler and Willie Spence. So who will join Beckham and past winners that include Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Jordin Sparks, Phillip Phillips and more? We’ll have to wait and see, but here is what we do know about American Idol season 20.

When is ‘American Idol’ season 20 release date?

ABC renewed American Idol a couple of weeks before it aired the finale for season 19, and now we know exactly when we will be getting the historic 20th season of the reality signing competition: Sunday, Feb. 27 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

Though only the premiere date was announced, in recent seasons ABC has been airing American Idol as part of its Sunday night lineup, then adding a Monday episode when the live competition beings. We'll keep you updated as episode dates are announced for the full American Idol season 20 are made available. 

Who is the ‘American Idol’ host?

Ryan Seacrest has been the host of American Idol since the very beginning (he actually had a co-host for the first season, Brian Dunkleman, remember?). While it would be weird to imagine a season of American Idol without Seacrest, when the renewal for season 20 was given it was not confirmed that he would be back. But, as we now know, Seacrest will be back to guide the competition series along for the 20th time.

Who are the ‘American Idol’ judges?

Also back for another go around are Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan as the American Idol judges. The trio have been together since season 16 debuted on ABC. As this will be the trio's fifth season on the show, it makes them the longest tenured judges since the original group of Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson.

One recent American Idol mainstay that will not be returning for season 20 is advisor Bobby Bones; he is working on another TV project on a different network.

One other bit of news from behind-the-scenes, Deadline has reported that American Idol showrunner Trish Kinane is stepping down after handling the job since season 15 (it’s last on Fox). Megan Michaels Wolflick, who has been with the show in various roles for 15 years, will take over as showrunner for season 20.

Is there an 'American Idol' season 20 trailer

The first official look at American Idol season 20 was shown during a recent Television Critics Association event. The trailer previews some of the cities that American Idol held its season 20 auditions in, including Los Angeles, Austin and Nashville. We also get to see some of the new batch of talent that will be vying for the title of the next American Idol and a peek at a new wrinkle to the competition, a platinum ticket that gives three contestants in each audition city a shortcut in the competition (what exactly that is wasn't fully explained).

Watch the American Idol season 20 right here: 

What is the 'American Idol' platinum ticket?

As previewed in the American Idol season 20 trailer, there is a new wrinkle for this season, the platinum ticket. American Idol contestants have always been shooting for a golden ticket that signified they were moving on to the next round of the competition, Hollywood week; the platinum ticket is a step up, as it will give a select number of contestants an advantage during Hollywood week.

According to The Wrap, reporting from the winter Television Critics Association event, there are three platinum tickets that were available to contestants at each of the three auditions, so nine in total. Whoever earns one of those tickets gets to skip competing in the first day of Hollywood week, but instead watch from the theater to rest their voice, strategize and check out the competition.

"They get a tiny advantage because they're the cream of the crop," said Katy Perry during the event.

'American Idol' season 20 contestants

Though we get a sneak peek at some of the talented singers that will be part of the American Idol season 20 in the trailer above, we won't know who they are until the season officially gets underway. What to Watch will update this section with the official roster of contestants, including who snagged a platinum ticket, as it is revealed throughout the start of the season. 

How to watch 'American Idol' season 20

American Idol airs on ABC, one of the major four U.S. networks that is available to any viewer that has a traditional cable/satellite pay-TV subscription or a TV antenna to receive their local ABC station signal. The network is also available on live TV streaming services like FuboTV, Hulu with Live TV and YouTube TV.

Subscribers to these services will be able to watch the latest episodes (should they miss them live) the day after they air on You can also catch up with the latest episodes if you are a Hulu subscriber. Past episodes of American Idol are also available to watch on or on Hulu.

Outside of the U.S., American Idol has traditionally aired on CityTV in Canada the same day as the U.S. broadcast and on Netflix in the U.K., a couple of days after its U.S. airing. Though not confirmed, that will likely be the case again for season 20.

Another option for watching American Idol outside the U.S. is with a virtual private network, or VPN. A VPN lets you get around the usual frustrating digital barriers by changing your IP address, meaning you can watch your favorite TV shows even if you're going to be away from home. 

Our favorite is ExpressVPN, which lets you change your IP address on whichever device you want to watch your new favorite show on.

From laptops to smart TVs, Amazon Fire Sticks, games consoles, and even mobile phones, you can change the address to make your device think it's in a different location to enable you to watch the things you love around the world. 

ExpressVPN is one of the best VPNs out there. Not only because it is straightforward and easy to use, but it also has great security and, best of all, it comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.


ExpressVPN is one of the easiest and affordable ways to watch what you want from anywhere you want to watch it. And it's a great way to keep up with the boxing action from anywhere in the world.

Michael Balderston

Michael Balderston is a D.C.-based entertainment writer and content producer for What to Watch. He previously has written for TV Technology and Awards Circuit.