Simon Cowell said he expected ratings of at least 20 million viewers for the United States version of the “X Factor” that began airing on the Fox network Thursdays at 8 p.m. Cowell had been exceedingly confident about the September 2011 premiere and stated ratings under 20 million for his latest television project would be “a failure.” The television reality talent show drew 12.5 million viewers in its first week and about 12 million in its second week. “X Factor’s” leading rival for viewers is the ABC network comedy series Modern Family that reportedly drew 14.5 million viewers the same night of the “X Factor” premiere. Cowell moderates the weekly talent competition with another former American Idol judge Paula Abdul. “X Factor” also features lead singer of the Pussycat Dolls Nicole Scherzinger and music industry executive L.A. Reid on the panel of judges. NBC network’s reality singing competition “The Voice” featuring celebrity coaches Christina Aguilera, Blake Shelton, Cee Lo Green, Adam Levine and Carson Daly drew 12 million viewers an episode in its first season in 2011.
Cowell admitted his disappointment to Entertainment Weekly and said his goal was “20 million when we launched” the “X Factor” series. He has since come to terms with his miscalculated ratings prediction of overestimating viewership by approximately 7.5 million. Cowell remains hopeful that the show will eventually achieve higher ratings declaring he is “back in the real world and I’m seeing this grow naturally.”
Simon Cowell’s popularity began with the Fox series “American Idol” where he sat on the panel of judges with Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson from 2002-2010 and provided droll critiques of the contestants. Cowell left the series in its ninth season. Critics expected the show’s ratings to plunge dramatically after Cowell’s departure. Cowell’s brusqueness and wit combined with Jackson’s music industry wisdom and Abdul’s effervescent optimism helped to draw the attention of over 18 million viewers in 2002. “American Idol” still commands strong ratings. The series reportedly drew 25 million viewers in its tenth season in 2011.
51-year-old Cowell has faced difficulty bringing the “X Factor” production to the United States. Cowell created the “X Factor” and the series originally aired in 2004 in the United Kingdom. Cowell is also an executive producer of the show. “American Idol” series creator Simon Fuller sued Fox Broadcasting and “X Factor” production company Freemantle Media in 2005 over copyright issues. Fuller stated Cowell had copied the idea for his series from Fuller’s “American Idol” model. The network and production company arranged a settlement out of court. Fuller agreed to a settlement and ten percent of the “X Factor” profit as well as an Executive Producer credit.
In spite of obstacles and disappointing ratings Cowell says, “I’m as happy as I’ve ever been” and remains positive “X Factor” will have higher ratings in the near future.