Relief for ITV as Simon Cowell signs three-year deal for X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent

X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent inventor and host Simon Cowell and his partners Sony and Fremantle Media have signed a three-year deal worth a reported £100m to keep the top-rating talent shows on ITV.

This will be a considerable relief to ITV as the two shows regularly attract audiences of 15 million plus and are estimated to account for a tenth or more of ITV’s total £1.3bn ad revenue between them. ITV will also share some online revenues.

Grateful viewers may not be seeing so much Cowell though as the former A&R man, who already appears on America’s Got Talent, is planning to launch X Factor in the US imminently (on his other US show American Idol he’s just a highly-paid judge). This is a problem for ITV programme boss Peter Fincham as, although Cowell is just as annoying as his fellow judges, he’s also rather more knowledgeable and this could affect the ratings in the early rounds which he is likely to miss.

Another absentee will be former Mirror editor Piers Morgan whose career revived when Cowell chose him as a Britain’s Got Talent and America’s Got Talent judge. Morgan is off to the US to take over Larry King’s prestige CNN interviewing slot.

The hyperactive Cowell is also supposed to be starting a new entertainment and merchandising business with retail tycoon Sir Philip Green, owner of Arcadia whose brands include Top Shop.

This was announced in the summer but, so far, little more has been heard about it. Hardly surprising as Cowell must spend most of his time in the studio or on planes.

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