The US version of Simon Cowell’s phenomenally successful X Factor UK TV talent show, due to debut on Fox in September, is already reported to have taken over £160m in sponsor commitments, led by Pepsi.
Which is all rather worrying for ITV CEO Adam Crozier and his team of new brooms at the UK broadcaster.
ITV’s near 20 per cent bounceback in ad sales and huge increase in profits last year was led by the X Factor in the run-up to Christmas with some spots being sold for £250,000 plus.
If he only turns up for the last few editions of the UK X Factor this is likely to hit ratings hard, especially if he’s joined in the US by fellow judge and chanteuse Cheryl Cole (currently taking elocution lessons to help her Geordie accent cross the Atlantic).
ITV is rising high at the moment (it has just been re-admitted to the UK FTSE 100 index of biggest companies) but it’s highly dependent on the X Factor for both ratings and revenue.
Of course the X Factor may flop in America although that’s unlikely as the US networks, just like their British counterparts, are desperate for more ‘event’ television to match the success of sports biggies like the Super Bowl.
So News Corporation’s Fox will be putting all its considerable firepower behind the X Factor and Cowell.
Which suggests an interesting scenario, should Cowell and ITV fall out. News Corp already owns 39 per cent of UK pay-TV broadcaster BSkyB (and may well own the rest come September).
Might Cowell be lured to Sky One? It seems a racing certainty that the US X Factor (including Cowell and Cole presumably) will be shown on Sky from September.