“The X Factor” U.S. could take more of a “sporting event” approach in its third season in 2013, now that News Corp. senior executive VP David Hill has been appointed to oversee “The X Factor” U.S. and American Idol. News Corp. is the parent company of Fox, the U.S. network for “The X Factor” and “American Idol.” Hill was previously chairman/CEO of Fox Sports Media Group, and insiders are speculating that Hill will bring his sports background to his approach in revamping the two shows.
“American Idol” is televised on Fox for an average of three hours a week from January to May. “The X Factor” U.S. is televised on Fox for an average of three hours a week from September to December.
According to June 2013 reports by The Hollywood Reporter, Deadline and Variety, Hill has been tasked with overhauling “The X Factor” and “American Idol,” which in the past year have had alarming decreases in their ratings. Each show had about a 25 percent decline in ratings for their most recent respective seasons, according to the Nielsen Company. Both shows have now been surpassed in the ratings by NBC’s “The Voice” U.S.
The appointment of Hill came after Fox president of alternative entertainment Mike Darnell announced in May 2013 that he was leaving Fox after 18 years at the network. Darnell said in a statement that he chose not to renew his contract with Fox, but many people have speculated that Darnell quit before he could be fired, since he was responsible for decisions regarding “American Idol” and “The X Factor” U.S. that led to steep declines in both shows’ ratings. (The replacement for Darnell has not yet been named.)
Meanwhile, “The X Factor” U.S. has been blamed in recent editorials in Variety and Entertainment Weekly for the massive downward spiral of “American Idol” ratings in 2013. In May and June 2013, “American Idol” underwent more shakeups, as judges Randy Jackson, Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj announced that they were quitting the show, while longtime “American Idol” executive producers Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick were fired. In the wake of these firings, “Swedish Idol” executive producer Per Blankens has been brought in as an executive producer for “American Idol.”
Keith Urban, who joined the “American Idol” judging panel in the show’s 12th season, has told the media that he wants to stay with “American Idol,” but he hasn’t heard yet if he will be asked to remain on the show or not. “American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest is expected to renew his contract with the show, which would make him the last star of “American Idol” who has been with the show since its 2002 debut.
Meanwhile, former “American Idol” judge Simon Cowell, who left the show in 2010 to launch the U.S. version of “The X Factor,” is among those getting blamed for the “The X Factor” failing to meet ratings expectations ever since the “The X Factor” U.S. launched in 2011.
Variety’s Brian Lowery and Entertainment Weekly’s Dalton Ross wrote editorials saying that “The X Factor” is also directly responsible for “American Idol’s” ratings decline.
Ross went as far to say that Fox should “cancel ‘The X Factor’ immediately” in order to improve “American Idol’s” ratings. Ross, who called “The X Factor” U.S. a “bloated mess,” argued: “Getting rid of ‘The X Factor’ would force Fox to fully recommit to one show and allow the audience a much-needed breather. As a superspecial bonus, we would no longer have to hear about ‘The X Factor.'”
Lowery thinks the problem with “The X Factor” is that it’s too much like “American Idol,” and that these similarities have hurt both shows. Lowery wrote: “Despite protestations ‘X Factor’ would establish its own personality, it was clear early on this was simply a clone, ‘American Idol: Fall Edition.'”
(“The X Factor” U.S.and “American Idol” share a production company: FremantleMedia North America. “The X Factor” U.S. is also produced by Cowell’s Syco Television, while “American Idol” is also produced by 19 Entertainment.)
Even though some people think “The X Factor” should be cancelled immediately, Fox is “stuck” with “The X Factor” for the time being, according to Variety. Except for mid-season show “The Following,” all of Fox’s new series that premiered in the 2012-2013 TV season failed to become big hits. “The X Factor” U.S. will likely be cancelled once Fox decides the show can be replaced with more profitable, higher-rated shows.
“American Idol” is even less likely to be cancelled than “The X Factor” because, despite getting a firestorm of criticism from viewers and experiencing a steep ratings decline, “American Idol” is still Fox’s highest-rated entertainment TV series.
Many viewers on the Internet have a different viewpoint for why “American Idol” lost millions of viewers in 2013: They didn’t like the chemistry of the “American Idol” judging panel in the show’s 12th season, because of the very public feuding between Minaj and Carey. Minaj was particularly disliked by viewers, many of whom said they were boycotting “American Idol” as long as she was on the show.
“American Idol” viewers also expressed dissatisfaction with what they said was the inferior talent of the Season 12 finalists. Viewers also voiced suspicions that the show was rigged for a female contestant to win in 2013. Candice Glover won “American Idol” in 2013. She was the first female to win on the show since Jordin Sparks in 2007.
“The X Factor” also has big problems. Unlike “American Idol,” whose judging panel remained the same for the show’s first seven seasons, “The X Factor” U.S. has had so many changes to its lineup of stars every season that Cowell is now the only one who has been with “The X Factor” U.S. from the beginning.
Former “X Factor” U.S. judges Cheryl Cole, Paula Abdul, Nicole Scherzinger and former host Steve Jones were fired. Britney Spears and Antonio “L.A.” Reid also left the show’s judging panel; Reid quit, and Spears was fired or quit, depending on whom you believe. Khloe Kardashian was fired as the show’s co-host.
The show’s Season 3 talent lineup in 2013 consists of judges Cowell, Demi Lovato, Kelly Rowland and Paulina Rubio. Mario Lopez, who began hosting “The X Factor” U.S. in 2012, will continue to host the show in 2013, but this year, he’ll be hosting by himself.
In recent interviews, Cowell has said that “The X Factor” U.S. will undergo a major format change in the middle of Season 3, but he has declined to reveal further details.