11:08 am - 02/12/2014

Simon Cowell tried to move X Factor to NBC + was a commercial flop

Weeks before Fox officially lowered the curtain on The X Factor, sources say its creator and star Simon Cowell quietly reached out to NBC to find a new home for his TV baby. "Simon himself was involved in this process," says an executive familiar with the approach on behalf of Cowell's Syco production company and partner FremantleMedia. (A Cowell source vehemently denies a pitch was made, adding, "Fox and Syco/Fremantle looked at plausible other options in the U.S. without him but decided these weren't viable.") But NBC already has The Voice and the Cowell-produced America's Got Talent -- and, more importantly, X Factor was damaged goods.

In fact, now that the show was canceled Feb. 7, observers are divided on Cowell's future on U.S. television as well as the steps Fox will take to replace its failed franchise.

When the bombastic singing competition launched to much fanfare in 2011, Cowell -- whose pay was reported to be tens of millions of dollars because of his ownership stake -- boldly told THR he expected 20 million viewers a night for its twice-weekly broadcasts. But by its third season, after an overhaul that included slashing per-episode costs to what a source says was a still-pricey $2.5 million an hour, X Factor delivered only 6.7 million viewers a week in live-plus-7-day numbers (with younger viewers 18-to-34, it was down 45 percent). At the same time, ad revenue plummeted. X Factor raked in an estimated $500 million during its first season, according to Kantar Media, plus a lucrative two-year, $60 million sponsorship deal with Pepsi. But by season two, that ad money had declined more than 20 percent to $386 million. And during the first 11 months of 2013, X Factor generated slightly more than $139 million, compared with American Idol's $596 million and Voice's $565 million (the latter airs two cycles a year). Making matters worse, Pepsi declined to renew its sponsorship deal for X Factor's third season, as did Chevrolet, though Fox sales execs lured Honda and Procter & Gamble to replace them.'

The harsh reality was addressed head-on during 21st Century Fox's earnings call Feb. 6, with president and COO Chase Carey noting that the show's ratings were "disappointing" and "fell faster than we hoped." At the TV critics press tour in January, Fox Broadcasting Co. chief Kevin Reilly said that if X Factor returned for a fourth season, it "would not be in the current format we have." Reilly and his team are said to have discussed options for months, with Cowell noting in December that the show -- which critics have knocked as tacky and too over-the-top for mainstream U.S. audiences -- could shift to a one-night-only format. At the time, Cowell, who once ruled TV as the star judge on Idol, acknowledged that increased competition, including from Voice, was taking its toll: "It's getting to be probably too much."

The 54-year-old Cowell, who on Feb. 11 told a U.K. publication that it was always "[the] plan to do three years" of X Factor in the U.S., isn't out of the TV business, of course. X Factor continues to air in 45 countries, and Cowell said that he will return to the judges panel on the U.K. version. "The plan is for [Cowell] to have homes in London and New York and to say goodbye to L.A. for now," another source tells THR. Such a move would also bring him closer to girlfriend Lauren Silverman, who lives on the East Coast, with whom he's expecting a child in February.


Simon's backtracking is glorious to see

2morrowww 12th-Feb-2014 04:26 pm (UTC)
lmao flop
ellaellaeheheh 12th-Feb-2014 04:28 pm (UTC)
the show started all wrong in the US. I love the UK version, but the US one was never the same.
I hope Cheryl goes back to the UK one, I need her and Louis in my life.
so_chic_doll 12th-Feb-2014 04:47 pm (UTC)
plus America's Got Talent sort of jumped on TV before The X Factor made it over here-- so the concept was already sort of played out.
cricketgrl 12th-Feb-2014 05:46 pm (UTC)
I agree with SoChicDoll, it was bad timing plus the format really didn't work here. Where as the Voice had a different format which is why they destroy the X Factor.
khaldrogo 12th-Feb-2014 04:29 pm (UTC)
mortimer123 12th-Feb-2014 04:31 pm (UTC)
After he decided to change the judges after season 1, I checked out.

Edited at 2014-02-12 04:32 pm (UTC)
stewie_e 12th-Feb-2014 05:04 pm (UTC)
same. i can't help but feel that had he just not been so fickle and kept Paula and Cheryl the ratings would have at least remained steady into Season 2 and 3 (maybe). the judge style musical chairs thing didn't help the ratings at all.

Edited at 2014-02-12 05:05 pm (UTC)
lilo146 12th-Feb-2014 04:32 pm (UTC)
i always thought that axing cheryl cole was a stunt. it was weird that he hired someone totally unknown for the us audience, and having that girl from the pussycat dolls hosting in the first place. in think everything was planned. Im glad this show is over, and thank god that Dermot didnt went to the US, he dodge a bullet.
torture_tactics 12th-Feb-2014 04:41 pm (UTC)
i know he's like a billionare or something but whatever, his failure is still delicious
lovedforaday 12th-Feb-2014 04:47 pm (UTC)
In fact, now that the show was canceled Feb. 7, observers are divided on Cowell's future on U.S. television as well as the steps Fox will take to replace its failed franchise.

his schtick is beyond tired. why would anyone pay him huge amounts of money to say the same bullshit he spouted on AI for years. no one's thinking about cowell anymore.
stunner_shades 12th-Feb-2014 04:54 pm (UTC)
His excuses are so embarrassing. For everything. When he fails or messes up, it's ALWAYS part of ~the bigger plan~
a_wa 12th-Feb-2014 05:55 pm (UTC)
Denial's not just a river...
stewie_e 12th-Feb-2014 05:02 pm (UTC)
prophecypro 12th-Feb-2014 05:08 pm (UTC)
He could have taken it to cable or the CW in that case.
cricketgrl 12th-Feb-2014 05:47 pm (UTC)
Didn't the CW already have a talent show with Gloria Estefan
ace_kay 12th-Feb-2014 06:31 pm (UTC)
If it ended up on the CW, that would have been even funnier.
_twenty 12th-Feb-2014 06:46 pm (UTC)
lmaoooo. The CW operates at at loss as it is. They couldn't take on a $2.5m-per ep show.
tankmachine 12th-Feb-2014 05:19 pm (UTC)
i mean he's still hella loaded and this isn't gonna change that but still lol
maidenhell 12th-Feb-2014 05:19 pm (UTC)
He needs to go…his style of program (+ celebrity) is so 2000-2009.
marzipanism 12th-Feb-2014 05:20 pm (UTC)
remember when he tried to make Xtina vs Britney happen

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what a prick
emptyobsidian 12th-Feb-2014 10:01 pm (UTC)
He was such a douchebag to Christina too and I am thrilled that Voice/Christina "won." Seeing X-Factor flop massively has been a lot of fun.
lefler2 12th-Feb-2014 07:00 pm (UTC)
I need something new and fresh. I stopped watching the uk version 3-4 seasons ago. I just got bored.
a_wa 12th-Feb-2014 07:00 pm (UTC)
Simon, just cut your losses and call it a day, please. It's over. You should enjoy the money you got from it while it lasted, and you have the current most popular boyband in the palm of your hand, I promise you'll be fine without XF.
kstew 12th-Feb-2014 07:18 pm (UTC)
"it was always the plan to do three years"

lol this asshole
Saba Hajipour Nbc12th-Feb-2014 08:52 pm (UTC)
Did not want the x factor how rude
kilkenny5 12th-Feb-2014 09:18 pm (UTC)
Why NBC?

He should've talked to ABC/Disney, especially with Dancing With the Stars tanking in the ratings.

FOX should've called his bluff years ago when he threatened to go to another network.

But then again, had Simon went to NBC originally, The Voice never would've seen the light of day perhaps.
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