Ryan-SeacrestRyan Seacrest may have priced himself out of a job on “American Idol,” the hit Fox show he helped pioneer. But is that such a bad thing for him, or the show?

Seacrest is at the center of speculation over his future on the ground-breaking music show, the first to put live acts on television–albeit many bad–since the days of musical variety programs in the 1960s.

Seacrest’s three-year contract expired at the end of the current season, and now CKx, the parent company of Idol producer 19 Entertainment, seems more interested in saving a few bucks than rehiring him with a raise.

So would it be a blow to either if he just left? Probably not. Seacrest probably doesn’t want to just walk away from an easy pay day, but he’s poised to cash in on an even bigger payday, too.

Ryan Seacrest on the Radio

His radio show “On Air With Ryan Seacrest,” on KISS radio in Los Angeles is hugely popular, and could be the springboard for a national show on satellite radio or an even more coveted talk show. Then, he’d be taking Oprah Winfrey money.

“American Idol” producers apparently believe Seacrest is expendable because the show managed to survive the departure of judge Simon Cowell.

“There’s no way [Idol co-producer] FremantleMedia and CKx will continue to pay Ryan when he can be replaced for $2 million or $3 million,” a source told The Hollywood Reporter.

The engine that powers the show are the judges and ultimately the contestants. Keep them interesting and they all become movable parts.

In fact, periodically replacing judges and the host, for that matter, might be a way to keep the show fresh.

Some argue that Seacrest is closely identified with the show and part of the brand. But if Cowell wasn’t part of the brand no one is. Well, he’s gone and the show lives on.

Ryan Seacrest Talk Show Worthy

There were similar concerns a few years ago when Bob Barker finally retired from “The Price is Right.” But his replacement, comedian Drew Carey, has made the show his own.

And that’s the potential rub here. If Seacrest goes, his replacement has got up to the task. And, good hosts don’t grow on trees.

Steve Jones flopped on the “X Factor,’ and hurt the show. Of course, now he’s gone.

In the end, Seacrest is ultimately subordinate to the judges. So it’s not that he got too big for the job, the job is really too little for him. At this stage of his career he should be able to do better.

Ryan Seacrest is a top-notch interviewer, so why not Larry King’s old job at CNN. Piers Morgan has clearly already overstayed his welcome there.

As for “American Idol,” there’s always Nick Cannon?