Season 10 of Simon Cowell‘s The X Factor UK kicks off in a few weeks on ITV. Sharon Osbourne is returning after a five-year absence, and Cowell will make special appearances, but won’t be back full-time. Could Season 11 be a different story? Three-year contracts for both X Factor and Cowell’s other ITV mainstay, Britain’s Got Talent, expire at the end of this year and The Guardian reports that ITV is urging Cowell to return to X Factor as part of the parties’ new contract negotiations. Thinking is that a Cowell return could help goose ratings after last December’s finale hit a six-year low. Still, the show is key to ITV and while the network is staying mum, I’m assured by a source that X Factor UK and BGT “are going to be around for some time to come.” ITV has “an excellent and long-standing relationship with (producers) Syco and Talkback.” Cowell left X Factor UK in 2010 to concentrate on the Fox version in the U.S. Now going into its 3rd season, that show has had some growing pains – Cowell recently likened S2 to a bad dinner party. But the two X Factors air at essentially the same time of year, meaning doing both would be a stretch. If talks do not guarantee Cowell’s return to the UK show, The Guardian suggests ITV could look for reduced terms. Cowell publicist Max Clifford told the newspaper, “Obviously, everybody to do with the show wants Simon because he gives it an extra quality, we understand that, but with his commitments (in the U.S.) he simply can’t be in two places at once.”

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