NBC rumored to be talking about bringing back 'American Idol'

Here's something that will make music fans do a double take: Variety is reporting that NBC is considering bringing back "American Idol" for a 16th season.

Yes, NBC, the network that broadcasts "The Voice," is rumored to be discussing a revival of its biggest rival.

The Variety report cites an unnamed source and states only that talks are happening, so take Thursday's article with a grain of salt, but this is certainly surprising news for anyone who follows TV singing competitions. There wouldn't seem to be a reason for NBC to be interested in "Idol" - why double up on singing competitions, especially when there's no meaningful difference between what "Idol" did and what "The Voice" is still doing? The biggest distinction is that "The Voice" has its celebrities as hands-on coaches with teams, rather than judges, but the bulk of the show is still the same: would-be hitmakers competing in front of music stars for America's votes.

But dig a little deeper and it might make vague sense. For one, NBC is aggressively building on its relationship with Jennifer Lopez. Lopez stars in NBC's cop drama "Shades of Blue," which returns for its second season on March 5. She'll also be starring in the network's next live musical, "Bye Bye Birdie," and is a judge on its upcoming reality show "World of Dance." Lopez was open about enjoying her experience as a judge on "American Idol" and other rumors swirled last month that she was being looked at as a future coach on "The Voice." Bringing back "Idol" could be further courting Lopez.

It could also ironically be a way of helping "The Voice." The Variety report says that if NBC does go ahead with its "Idol" plans the network is considering cutting back "The Voice" from its current two seasons a year plan to the one season a year approach that it started with in 2011. One season a year would likely be much more manageable for the coaches on that series, as fans keep wondering every year whether Adam Levine and Blake Shelton's busy schedules will eventually force them out of their big red chairs. Could Levine and Shelton be convinced to stay longer if they didn't have to work essentially year-round?

Still, Thursday's news is more than a little funny, considering that there was no love lost between "American Idol" and "The Voice" when the two were both on the air. Many media outlets tried to play the two shows off one another, and "Idol" judge Randy Jackson made some snide comments about "The Voice" once upon a time. Plus, the single biggest dig against "The Voice" has been that it hasn't created an award-winning superstar like Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood, who emerged from "Idol."

So is this a case of if you can't beat 'em, get 'em to join you? Music fans will have to wait and see if these rumors actually get substantiated or if this is just more scuttlebutt. By the way, Season 12 of "The Voice" starts Monday, Feb. 27 at 8 p.m. on NBC.