'X Factor' Ratings Tumble During Premiere Week

Why Simon Cowell's show is still struggling while 'The Voice' keeps winning

Before The X Factor made its U.S. debut last September, judge and creator Simon Cowell predicted that 20 million viewers would tune in – and ended up with 12.7 million. "I'm being much, much more cautious this time," he recently told Entertainment Weekly. Caution turned out to be the right tone, as the show's two-hour Season Two Fox debut on Wednesday night drew just 8.5 million viewers, a 32 percent drop from the Season One premiere last fall. Even more humiliating for Cowell: the show's competition, NBC's The Voice, scored 10.7 million viewers on the same night. The NBC strategy of adding a third night this week – Wednesday – to oppose X Factor paid off brilliantly.

The X Factor did everything it could to boost excitement this season, firing unloved judges such as Idol alumna Paula Abdul and ex-Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger, and replacing them with two of the world's biggest pop stars in Britney Spears and Demi Lovato. On her first night, Spears received generally decent reviews for being suitably praiseworthy to the good singers and nasty to the incompetent ones. ("I want to know who let you onstage," she sneered at one point.)

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