Ratings have been slipping -- down eight percent from season seven. Could DeGeneres be the spark the show needs?
Bradley Jacobs, senior editor of Us Weekly magazine, said on "The Early Show" Thursday DeGeneres could be just what the doctor ordered for "Idol."
"I think (choosing DeGeneres is) probably going to pay off. And they have been playing with 'Idol' for years now," he said. "... They've been tweaking the format. Fox has been trying to keep it fresh."
Jacobs added DeGeneres' funny personality is great television.
"You want to be with Ellen, you want to sit on the couch next to Ellen. ... Ellen brings a warmth. She has a lovely persona. And I think that is somewhat of what she has in common with Paula and that's what people kind of appreciated watching."
However, unlike with Abdul, Jacobs said, more people will be watching to laugh with the host, rather than at her. Abdul was known for her on-camera antics, particularly with caustic fellow judge Simon Cowell.
Jacobs said DeGeneres has been up front with her lack of technical musical background, but he said she'll represent the people watching the show.
However, will the people accept her on the show that's become a cultural phenomenon, largely fueled by its hosts' personalities?
Fans took to the Internet after Wednesday's announcement to express either pleasant surprise or total shock that DeGeneres was picked to replace Paula Abdul.
"I mean, really? Ellen DeGeneres?" wrote popular "Idol" blogger MJ Santilli at mjsbigblog.com. "She guest judged 'So You Think You Can Dance' last season, and her critiques were comic relief. So is she going to be a real judge or some kind of joke? She's a comedian, not a singer or a musician. I'm kinda flummoxed here."
Others on the Internet, including posters on the AmericanIdol.com forums, said they were pleased that DeGeneres, who admittedly has no formal music experience, just a passion for tunes, would join Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi on "Idol."
Andy Dehnart, a reality television blogger at realityblurred.com, praised the "somewhat random" decision. He called it a 90-degree turn that would give the aging singing contest new life and may prompt more viewers to tune in when DeGeneres first appears during the semifinal rounds, which tend to be the snooziest part of the season.
"Hopefully, I'm the people's point of view because I'm just like you," DeGeneres said on her syndicated talk show Thursday. "I sit at home and I watch it, and I don't have that technical ... I'm not looking at it in a critical way from the producer's mind. I'm looking at it as a person who is going to buy the music and is going to relate to that person."
DeGeneres' hiring as the show's fourth judge all but seals the departure of Abdul, the original third judge who announced she was quitting amid a contract dispute in July.