'Dancing with the Stars:' What We Know So Far About Season 30

Kristyn Burtt

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Photo credit: ABC/Eric McCandless.

Even though "Dancing with the Stars" fans already knew this last fall, ABC has officially confirmed the 30th season of the long-running series. With a milestone season up ahead, it's important to look at what the network is doing in anticipation of celebrating the big year. Some of the news doesn't have every viewer cheering, but ABC studio executives are sticking with their choices.

The other looming question is how the pandemic, which still exists whether we like it or not, will affect the fall season. Since it is such a fluid situation, it's hard to predict whether "Dancing with the Stars" will look more like the 29th season with lots of safety protocols in place and no live studio audience, or whether it will return its former glory with a ballroom filled with people dressed in their Monday night best.

What is ABC looking for in its 30th season? Of course, they want big names and big drama, but remember, they also want to take the heat off of "The Bachelor" franchise. If "Dancing with the Stars" can deliver a distraction about a shiny mirror-ball trophy, then the executives have done their jobs while they sort out where "The Bachelor" and its currently-on-hiatus host, Chris Harrison, go.

Let's take a look at what we know so far:

The host

It's time to let Tom Bergeron go in peace. As he has said over and over again on social media, "That ship has sailed." He will not be returning for the 30th season no matter how much fans protest. Tyra Banks will be back at the helm as executive producer and host of the show — and this shouldn't be a surprise. Banks signed a multi-season contract last year to host and produce the show and even with all of last season's host changes, ratings in the coveted 18-49 demographic went up 10.68% with her leading the way. It may not be the answer every viewer wants to hear, but ABC is sticking with her despite all of the criticism.

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Photo credit: ABC/Eric McCandless.

The judges

Last season's trio of Carrieann Inaba, Bruno Tonioli and Derek Hough is back. Hough's return for season 30 was also set in stone last year when he signed a production deal with ABC — he was never going back to NBC, especially since "World of Dance" is canceled. The network also announced that Len Goodman, who appeared only in short video clips in season 29 due to COVID travel restrictions from the U.K., will return to the show. One thing ABC isn't committed to yet is confirming whether Goodman will be joining everyone in person in the U.S. or appear via video. Will he even be a judge? That hasn't been completely answered yet either.

The format

Given that the 15th season was an All-Stars season, many fans are asking for that format to return. ABC, and the pros involved, didn't love that season. For one, the ratings took a nosedive, losing over 4.5 million viewers that season. When they returned to the regular format, 3 million viewers came back the next season. There was also a lot backstage grumbling because not every returning contestant was paired with their original pro, and not every pro loved who they were paired up with. In a nutshell, don't expect an All-Star season.

Even Banks isn't much of a fan of that idea either. "There is something beautiful about doing a retrospect, when you hit a milestone year. At the same time, there are so many new viewers this season, and a retrospect may not resonate with them," she revealed to TV Insider last year. So expect some nostalgia, but not too much to alienate anyone who hasn't been around since the series first premiered in 2005.

Banks promised it wouldn't be too insider "where the new people don’t know what the heck is going on," she's hoping season 30 will hit all of the right notes for new and longtime fans. And she's not wrong, with the 18-49 demographic rising last season, some new viewers joined the show each week.

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Photo credit: ABC/Eric McCandless.

The expectations

It's hard to know at this point where the 30th season of "Dancing with the Stars" will land because there isn't the same anticipation in how producers will pull off a dance show in the middle of a pandemic. Hollywood has figured out how to maneuver around the restrictions and even executive producer Andrew Llinares has promised that some of last year's changes will continue in the future.

“Ultimately, we are all looking forward to a time when we have the freedom to make shows without these sort of restrictions,” Llinares told Deadline, “but even when that day comes, we’ll still hold on to many of the lessons that we learned from this very unique time.”

Last season had a bigger name cast than in recent years, but many celebrities were home and available because so many TV and film productions were pushed back. With talent back at work, it's going to be harder to entice those familiar faces to join the show. "Dancing with the Stars" also isn't the cool kid on the block with many stars gravitating toward "The Masked Singer" franchise because it requires less of a time commitment, but a bigger exposure opportunity since it's a Top 10 TV show.

No matter what, though, "Dancing with the Stars" proves itself to be a show that brings plenty of controversy and Twitter talk every time a new season rolls around. We have no doubt season 30 will follow that same path.

Before you go, check out 9 Things We Wish 'Dancing with the Stars' Would Bring Back — Even For Just One Week.

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Kristyn Burtt is a commercial dance journalist, TV host and producer. She was the West Coast correspondent and host of "To the Pointe" on Dance Network for five years. Her coverage of "So You Think You Can Dance," "Dancing With the Stars" and "World of Dance" is popular with dance fans across the globe. Kristyn's love of dance began early in her life. She trained at the Boston Ballet School, danced with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre in "The Nutcracker" and won a dance scholarship to New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. She currently serves on the American Dance Movement’s Marketing & PR Committee and is a member of the Television Academy and SAG-AFTRA.

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