Ryan Seacrest just got a whole lot richer. The American Idol host, who's emcee'd the show since its 2002 premiere, just renewed his contract with the reality TV juggernaut for two more seasons, and is set to earn $15 million annually, up from his current $10 million-a-year haul. The raise reportedy puts his salary on-par with judge Jennifer Lopez's yearly fee. "He is an integral part of why American Idol is a true phenomenon, and we can't imagine doing this show without him," a Fox exec said in a statement. Still, Idol's current ratings are barely half of what they were at its peak, according to Ad Week. Can the show afford such a substantial pay hike?

He's worth it: If anyone deserves this massive haul, it's Seacrest, says Linda Sharps at The Stir. His "signature, easygoing style" is responsible for much of Idol's lasting success. A live show can be chaotic and he's proven particularly adaptable. Remember last season when contestant Casey Abrams suffered a stress meltdown after being spared elimination by the judges "save"? Seacrest was "suave and cool-headed," appropriately concerned while still managing to re-start the show. "That's just professionalism, right there."
"Ryan Seacrest renews American Idol contract & it makes him insanely rich"

Especially by comparison: Seacrest's value has grown more apparent as rival programs have stumbled due to stilted hosts, says Lyndsey Parker at Yahoo. Take The X Factor's now-fired host Steve Jones, who demonstrated an "utter inability to keep a live episode on schedule without barking like a drill sergeant," and was responsible for several cringe-worthy moments, including his horrid handling of young Rachel Crow's heartbreaking elimination. Seacrest isn't perfect — his results-show fakeouts, especially, have become increasingly irritating. But he's the best in the biz right now.
"Is renewed American Idol host Ryan Seacrest worth $15 million?"

It's too much money: It's hard to imagine American Idol without Seacrest, says Mack Rawden at Cinema Blend, but Fox is overpaying. Idol's ratings have been steadily slipping, and the show certainly "doesn't boast the obsessive fandom it once did." How will it remain profitable if it keeps paying out such outlandishly large salaries to its judges and Seacrest?
"American Idol: Is Ryan Seacrest worth 15 million a season?"