Simon Cowell’s US X Factor gravy train means problems for ITV

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.

But Cowell, who is supposed to be appearing on both the UK and US versions of the X Factor stands to make much more money from the US version of the show in which he has a 14 per cent stake.

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.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.

One comment

  1. ITV should worry as they cannot compete with the US version; they can’t even get the audition process right for goodness sake! Once you apply online in (2010) ITV then sends an email advising they will be in touch by mid Feb 2011…..February comes and goes with still no contact!

    The ITV X Factor offices have no staff to answer the calls (answering machine on all 25 calls made), the ITV reception staff are highly rude and very un-helpful, and they cannot take messages and are un-willing to help(un-grateful people who do not deserve the job they have)!!

    After leaving three messages at the X Factor Offices there has been no contact from anyone just a stupid email which invites you to an open day (MILES AWAY FROM YOUR HOME) and you have to be there before 9:00am to be accepted (which is impossible considering the travel time etc), what’s the point!!!

    The US version will supercede the UK show as we brits are not capable of putting on a good show (no investment just greed and Tackiness)!!!!

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