Fox may be pinching itself that American Idol is doing so well in the ratings, but its owner CKX is feeling the pain. Los Angeles-based CKX has reported a $15.7 million loss last year, compared to a $22.8 million profit the year before. Most of this came from the one-off winding-up costs of shrinking American Idol creator Simon Fuller’s 19 Entertainment; Fuller still oversees American Idol but as a consultant. CKX has closed 19’s offices in London and New York, making 23 people redundant, with an annual savings of about $20 million a year from now on. Revenue also fell in 2010, by 17% to $273.7 million. CEO Michael Ferrel told investors in a conference call, “We wanted to get all the bad news in this press release out of the way.”

Last week’s American Idol enjoyed the biggest Thursday night audience of any TV network show in the past four years, Ferrel told investors. This year’s season ends in May, which is when negotiations with Fox will begin over the series’ 11th cycle. This year’s American Idol tour is booked for 40 dates so far but may well extend to 45-50 given the renewed interest in the show.

CKX had a rollercoaster year in 2010 with Fuller leaving to set up his new company XIX in January. Four months later he tried to buy CKX himself, but was up against Robert Sillerman, CKX’s ex-CEO, who resigned in May to launch his own bid for the company. In the end, CKX’s board decided to go with neither bid and ride things out.

Meanwhile, CKX’s Elvis Presley business was also dented last year with Graceland admissions down by 4% year-to-year and its Las Vegas-based Viva Elvis Cirque du Soleil show only running at 60% capacity.

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