Simon Cowell’s ‘X Factor’ Debuts With Decidedly Less Viewers Than ‘American Idol’
'X Factor' debuted on Wednesday night with much fanfare and plenty of product placement. Anyone else notice those strategically placed Big Gulp-sized cups of Pepsi, from which Simon Cowell and his band of merry judges sipped? It was probably diet soda. Nevertheless, the show looked amazing, with a big stage and beautiful judges.
It followed the same format as 'American Idol,' mixing against all odds-type performers with sad, tearjerking back stories and boatloads of talent with fools looking for 15 minutes of fame by dropping trou or pretending they had some skill. All these (x) factors aside, the show grabbed 12 million viewers, which is less than half of 26 million who tuned in for the debut of Season 10 of 'Idol,' Cowell's former show.
Before we can write off 'X Factor' as a flop, let's put thing in perspective. 'Idol' is a brand with 10 seasons and several superstars behind it, while 'X' is just out of the gates and getting its legs under it. 12 million is an incredibly healthy number for a new show. Additionally, Mike Darnell, head of alternative programming at FOX, told PEOPLE that he was relieved when the show's numbers hit his desk this morning! "We never expected it to be 'American Idol' numbers. 'American Idol' is a phenomenon. Those expectations were crazy," Darnell said. "Internally, these numbers were very good. I'm relieved this morning ... If this was any other show, it would be considered a hit."
Cowell must consider the numbers a disappointment, since he himself told The Hollywood Reporter that a viewership tally that flew under 20 million would be a "disappointment." Hey, it's Simon Cowell. He sets the bar high and even though the actual numbers came in well south of his expectations, he can still think big. Additionally, the Season 10 premiere of 'Idol' was down from the ninth season, which was, ironically, Cowell's last.
It's all about perspective. As 'X' wades through the muck and gets to the meat of the performers who will inevitably start to become buzzwords in the cultural conversation, the show should attract more fans. At least in theory.
The show has a full season ahead of it so to judge it by the first episode numbers would be like eliminating a Kelly Clarkson on her first audition. Catch our drift?