Simon Cowell’s The X Factor closed its 9th season on the UK’s ITV on Sunday night with the lowest audience for a finale since
2005 2006, according to overnight data reported by The Guardian. Declining figures this season have led to suggestions that a revamp is coming for the 10th series, the last the show has contracted with ITV. There are also suggestions that Cowell may need to return to the judging panel to save the show. Cowell made a special appearance on The X Factor UK in September, but while it helped the show win the night, it did not boost overnight ratings from the previous Cowell-less episode. Still, The Times of London writes today, “The X Factor may not be dead but either the end is nigh, or Cowell’s return is.”
This Sunday night’s season finale hit a peak of 12.8M with delayed viewings. Overall, an average 11.1M viewers (with delayed viewings) watched the two-hour show that aired from 7:40pm to 9:40pm for a 39.6% share. That was a 2M down from last year’s finale and more than 6M off the 2010 finale, The Guardian reports. Figures for the semi-final show last weekend were down 40% compared to 2010 when Cowell was still a judge, according to The Independent. (That season launched boy band One Direction.) Advertising revenues are also said to be down. ITV will generate about £85M in advertising coin from this season, according to The Guardian, about £15M down from its peak.
Amid the shortfalls, execs are mulling a revamp of the show for 2013, according to UK press reports. One “senior source” told The Sun, “It doesn’t take a genius to work out that the show is not in the best health. We have had some very strong singers this year, but the show is feeling in need of a reboot.” The show’s 2013 debut may be pushed back to coincide with kids’ return to school and arena auditions could be kiboshed for a return to intimate tryouts in front of the judges. Cowell himself is said to be heading to Britain next month for “crisis talks” after X Factor’s current run ends in the States. The judging panel could also see an overhaul with Sharon Osbourne and Cheryl Cole the subject of rumored returns in the past few months. Cole recently sued Blue Orbit Productions, a producer of the U.S. X Factor, saying she is owed $2.3M in pay-or-play cash. She was dumped from the show before it debuted in 2011.
An ITV spokeswoman downplayed the ratings declines over the weekend, telling The Independent, “The X Factor remains one of the highest rating entertainment shows on British TV. Demand from advertisers is high because it continues to attract an incredibly important audience in very big numbers.”