Simon Cowell regrets giant 'X Factor' ratings prediction


Image Credit: Ray Mickshaw/Fox

Simon Cowell admits he regrets saying ratings less than 20 million for the U.S. version of The X Factor would be a failure. The show’s September debut earned 12.5 million viewers, which was less than the premiere of the comedy Modern Family, the leader of the night with 14.5 million viewers. The X Factor held those numbers for the second episode. In week two, ratings hovered around 12 million viewers for each episode. “I’m not going to lie. I wanted 20 million when we launched,” said Cowell, “but now I’m kind of back in the real world and I’m seeing this grow naturally. I’m as happy as I’ve ever been.”

The show is Cowell’s baby. Besides being a judge on its panel, he is its creator and an executive producer. X Factor has a lot of competition not only from other TV shows but in convincing viewers to invest in another TV talent competition like Fox’s American Idol and NBC’s The Voice, which averaged 12.6 million viewers an episode in its first season earlier this year. (See EW’s survival predictions for all the new fall TV shows including X Factor here).

Cowell said he “got a buzz” when he heard about The Voice.”We’re not in Russia where you have one show. This is life. If you’re competitive and it spurs you on, I kind of get excited by it.”

This week on The X Factor, contestants will advance to the boot-camp round of the series. Singers travel to Los Angeles to once again sing for the judges and a live audience as they are critiqued on various aspects of performing.

The X Factor airs Wednesdays and Thursdays on Fox at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT.

Read more:
Teen sensation punks Simon Cowell
‘X Factor’ recap: Hi. We’re in… Newark.
Death Watch 2011: Fall TV survival status report

Comments (41 total) Add your comment
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  • Madox

    I’m burnt out on these talents shows. I’ve stopped watching all of them.

    • J

      Me too! I used to watch all of them and I just one by one starting dropping them.

      • RCB

        I’m watching and I’m rooting for Chris Rene (Young Homie).

    • wino

      good point. when AI first came out, it was new and exciting. now, after the Voice, AGT, Sing Off, etc, the novelty is gone.

    • Tamara

      Slezak did an interview over at TVLine that is so much more interesting.

    • MMJ

      I’m in the boat with you. I have gotten so bored with these types of shows that I rarely watch them. I remember seeing something in EW’s What to Watch column when America’s Got Talent was starting. One week she questioned “talent” and the next “got.” I laughed, but agreed.

      I tried tuning in to X-Factor, but found clone-AI, right down to the judges panel and the likable Ryan clone. So it’s got bigger money. So the contestants go to “boot camp.” So what. What I’d like to see is something better than karaoke talent.

      I’m not saying I won’t watch ever, but I’m not recording and not making an effort to view. I’ll see it while channel surfing or if there’s nothing else on and I want the TV on. If I see or hear something great, maybe I’ll tune in for more than that.

    • Jean Guy Levesque

      After all the hype this show is just terrible. There appears to be no talent left in America. Cowell is trying to come up with new insults, it’s obvious he’s crushing people on purpose to get ratings. Vive la Quebec!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • lady gagoop

    haha. ra ra oh la la ga ga flop u pa. haha. fail. simon. just fail.

    • matthew


  • Templar

    People felt cheated when Simon phoned it in on the last season of Idol and he crossed a lot more by savaging some of the contestants the season before that. He left a bad taste in people’s mouths. I hope his show is cancelled after this season.

    • JohnDoe

      Not going to happen with it getting 12+ million viewers. Especially considering it’s probably a lot cheaper than doing scripted shows.

    • Sincy

      Some truth to that, I think. Plus as Madox said above– how many of these types of show can there be? Finally, I saw the extended promo clip before the show ran. It wasn’t good – the talent was bad and they were really pushing the tears. Who needs that?

      • JohnDoe

        The drama is definitely a bit forced on the show, but there is some genuinely great talent so far. Much better than American Idol’s talent the last few seasons. At least in my opinion, anyways.

      • Matt

        Yet somehow the talent’s not nearly as good as a lot of what they got on The Voice. (And I’d argue there, ironically, were a lot more contestants on that show who had an “x-factor” than I’ve seen on X-Factor so far.) I guess it’s slightly apples and oranges, though, since most of the singers on The Voice were small-time professionals. Although, plenty of X-Factor-ites I guess are, too – they just don’t like to tell you that as much.

      • Shel

        For me, it feels like Simon abandoned Idol and basically just went to do another Idol. I get it, the auditions are “live” – but we still only see what they want us to see….which is hardly anyone in the grand scheme of things. And they “mentor” – well, I’m not sure I care how these people “mentor.” Plus, Simon brings back Paula and he gets a Randy-almost-look-alike. It was like he thought, “those Americans, I’ll get them to switch without realizing it.” It just feels contrived, and like we’ve seen it all before.

      • allie

        I have stopped watching the auditions – way too much time on the people with no talent. I’ll try again when the auditions are over and the mentoring starts. I like a few of the people they have selected but I think The Voice has the right idea by only showing the good talent.

    • Tony

      @Templar: Agreed that Cowell definitely phoned it in during his final AI season, and I lost respect for him for that. In the end, Cowell needs to get over himself. He was never the most important thing about AI. When the singers were good, and the competition was tight, the show was fun (Clay/Ruben, Adam/ Kris). XF will not see that success because the singers they have chosen are mediocre at best. They sound like AI rejects.

      • KristenV

        I agree with Tony.

  • JohnDoe

    Expecting any show that isn’t about poop and fart jokes and/or a crime procedural to get 20 million viewers is setting yourself up for disappointment. The media also needs to really stop trying to compare a brand new show’s ratings to American Idol’s ratings which have been built up slowly over the course of 10 years with a solid fan-base.

  • JD

    Why didn’t they bring Judge Randy along from Idol? I luv’d the “Dogg Pound” and “Little pitchy dog!” comments.

    • matthew

      are you joking?

      • Randy Jackson

        It aight. It aight.

    • the world

      they replace randy with another generic black guy for maintain the diversity quota

      • Diva!

        You’re talking about L.A. Reid, one of the most important figures in the music industry?The same man who signed Pink, Usher, Toni Braxton, TLC, Rihanna and Justin Beiber???? You should take a look at his resume and bank account before rendering him a “generic black guy.”

  • dave

    X Factor’s my favorite show and definitely better than Idol or the Voice. Judges are funny but they know what they are talking about – yes, even Paula. Some of the talent they showed was amazing. Keeping my fingers crossed for my favorites to make it through boot camp

    • johnc

      You drank too much Simon’s kool-aid!

  • Pamela Turner

    I hope they still bring Cheryl Cole in as a guest judge one day as well as Dannii Minogue, Louis Walsh, Gary Barlow, Kelly Rowland and Tulisa Contostavlos from the UK X Factor who can replicate their success in the UK in the US version.

    • Michael SCHAEFFER

      God, why is everyone making comps. Antonio L.A. Reid is a different person. Jackson’s just a bassist. L.A. Reid is an Emmy award winning producer and songwriter who has shephered many careers, such as Justin Beiber for instance. So please, don’t call him a lookalike!

    • Michael SCHAEFFER

      I would love to see Cheryl Cole come back. Think it’d work?

  • Rob

    I’m glad Simon was forced down a peg or two. His ego is HUGE and must realize the world doesn’t revolve around him. I’m not surprised by the lackluster ratings as I think a voice-tinged talent show is facing viewer fatigue.

  • Pete

    Those ratings have to hurt. The US is 5 – 6 times larger in population than the UK where the X Factor garnered an average audience of 9.78 million viewers, a 43.5% share of the audience,

    • Michael SCHAEFFER

      Just to be fair, Idol’s ratings when it premiered in the summer of 2002 were just like this, except it was summer. Give it time. Also, I have a feeling that 12 million is the new 20 million, and 20 million’s the new 50 million. Thanks to DVR and outdated ratings models.

  • Kate

    It’s just been disappointing. It’s too much like a mix of Idol and America’s Got Talent. They would have been wise to forgo all the crap acts and the entire “audition rounds” and begin with “boot camp,” where valid singers vie for a place on the show (a la The Voice).

    Bottom line, there are just too many of these talent shows out there right now. Not enough audience to go around.

  • Teddy

    Associated Press? Seriously EW?

  • L. K

    He lost alot of support witht that terrible first episode when they let that man parade around naked for 6 minuteson stage without calling security.It was an obvious stunt and alot of people have not tuned in since then,me included.

  • JJ

    Cowell needs to revisit the decisions he’s made thus far for the show. Cutting Cheryl Cole to replace her with the much maligned (read the mssg bds folks) Nicole Sherzinger, the focus on the bad auditions vs the good, the choice of putting “stories” into the competitions vs genuine talent (the “little homie” recovering addict…he can’t sing), etc.

    The show at first glance looks like America’s Idols Got Talent so what’s the draw? Paula and Simon’s bratty antics are NOT entertaining so give me a reason to keep coming back.

    The UK version is so superior in the selection of talent and focus on the contestants.

  • Justin Poppiti

    Now, Simon is back-tracking. Typical.

  • Dumbledore Fluffernutter

    It’s definitely been unimpressive so far. It’s like Simon’s afraid of giving the host too much screen time because he wants to be the uncontested star of the show, so we’re left floating around for 2 hours without someone to guide us. LA Reid is a pompous unlikable buffoon. Sherzinger is an indecisive wimp and is inferior to Cheryl Cole who I had no problem understanding. There’s too much focus on people’s sob stories. I also think bringing terrible auditioners out to perform in front of a large audience is cruel on this show. Hopefully when it goes live things will improve.

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