Ryan Seacrest Had Been Contemplating Leaving 'Live With Kelly and Ryan' for Years, Source Says

The host shared the 'bittersweet' news during Thursday's 'Live With Kelly and Ryan.'

Seacrest out! On Thursday, Ryan Seacrest announced that after six years, he would be stepping down as Kelly Ripa's Live With Kelly and Ryan co-host. While the decision might feel sudden to fans, the 48-year-old had actually been thinking about making the change for years.

"Ryan has been contemplating leaving the show for years and has been very conflicted," a source tells ET. "He truly loves working with Kelly and the Live crew. However, with American Idol's upcoming season filming in Los Angeles and other opportunities, he felt leaving the show was the right thing to do."

The source adds the the burnout and exhaustion that Seacrest experienced over the pandemic, put being bi-costal in perspective. Ultimately, he decided to focus on his West Coast opportunities. However, Seacrest knows that the show will be in good hands, as Ripa's husband, Mark Consuelos, fills his spot. 

"In 2020, Ryan suffered from exhaustion and was burnt out and he's trying to avoid that from happening again," the source adds. "Choosing Mark as Kelly's new co-host was easy. The network and Kelly wanted to avoid her and a new co-host not hitting it off. Mark and Kelly have hosted before and it's always gone well with fan reaction."

On Thursday's Live show, the American Idol host shared the news exclusively with the audience. During the "bittersweet" announcement, Seacrest said that he made the decision last year that his sixth season would be his final season.

"Working alongside Kelly over the past six years has been a dream job and one of the highlights of my career. She has been an amazing partner, friend, and confidant, and although we will always be a part of each other’s lives, I will miss our mornings together," Seacrest said as he made the announcement. 

"I also want to thank Michael Gelman and the entire staff and crew. We’ve made memories to last a lifetime, met some of the most incredible people and had the warmest welcome into the homes of so many viewers across America," he continued. "It’s been a memorable ride and now I’m excited to pass the baton to Kelly’s 'real' husband, Mark."

Seacrest added that the Live audience isn't losing him just yet. In the spring, he will continue on as a guest host while he splits his time in Los Angeles during the kickoff to American Idol's 21st season.

Following his announcement, Ripa -- who has hosted the show since 2001 -- took to Instagram to congratulate her friend, and celebrate her husband.

"OK NOW we’re empty nesters. When your friends become work mates become family. ♥️," she wrote. "Congratulations @ryanseacrest on surviving six winters in NYC! I’m proud of you and am forever in your corner. And @instasuelos welcome home, or to the contractual obligation phase of our relationship."



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