On a call promoting the new X Factor recording booths that are being dispatched to six cities for auditions, boss Simon Cowell shared his frustration over the dragged-out decision on who the remaining two judges will be, joining him …
On the heels of Fox unspooling a new promo for Simon Cowell’s The X Factor during the Super Bowl, the network this morning made several X Factor-related announcements.
First off, the winner of the reality singing competition will be awarded a $5 million record deal, which the producers called “the largest guaranteed prize in television history”, with Syco, a joint venture between Sony Music and Cowell. Secondly, all singers and vocal groups 12 and over will be eligible to compete. American Idol this season brought down the lower end of the contestants’ age limit to 15, resulting in an influx of young talent. But, unlike Idol, X Factor doesn’t have upper age limit. “I like the idea that a 12-year-old on this show can compete with an older singer and a singing group,” said Cowell. “I’ve never believed there should be a cut-off age for talent, and we are going to put our money where our mouths are with the $5 million recording contract. I’m doing this show in America because I genuinely believe we can find a superstar.” The show is yet to announce judges, with U.K. singer Cheryl Cole, a judge on the British Factor, considered a frontrunner according by the British press, which also lists U.S. singers Nicole Scherzinger and Katy Perry as contenders.
Fox is premiering promos for 2 hyped new series during its telecast of the Super Bowl: one for Simon Cowell’s X Factor and one for the Steven Spielberg-produced prehistoric saga Terra Nova. Here is The X Factor spot. Just like the first teaser released in November, the new one …
Back on December 12th, I broke the news about a Cola War between Coke and Pepsi raging over Simon Cowell’s new U.S. version of The X Factor coming to Fox this fall. And I tipped that Pepsi was leading. Now that sponsorship battle has been won by Pepsi, according to an announcement just made by Fox Broadcasting Company, Cowell’s Syco Television, and FremantleMedia North America today. ”The comprehensive sponsorship of The X Factor by Pepsi includes an extensive, multi-platform off-air marketing partnership; weekly in-show integrations and placements; and an immersive content experience online. Pepsi will be the exclusive beverage sponsor of THE X FACTOR both on and off-air,” the announcement states.
Obviously all those scandals affecting the UK version of Cowell’s The X Factor talent show didn’t scare away advertisers for the American version. I heard there was a $50 million to $100 million auction going on between Coke and Pepsi. Coca-Cola has been a longtime sponsor of Fox’s American Idol; it got in on the ground floor for less than $10 million. That was a bargain based on ratings that were off the charts for the 12-week program, beating network promises by about 10% and capturing 23 million viewers for the closing finale. The soft drink company has one year left on its Idol contract and it made sense that Coke would want to jump on The X Factor bandwagon as well. But even though I heard Coke was offering more money, my sources said Cowell et al thought Pepsi would make a better fit. And he said so today. “I am absolutely delighted Pepsi is going to be our partner for The X Factor in America,” Cowell officially announced. “It feels like the perfect fit, and I love their ambition and excitement.”
Because of doubts about American Idol‘s format, Pepsi passed on a multimillion-dollar sponsorship when the show was still an unknown in the early stages when dealmakers were trying to have more of the show’s expenses underwritten. Pepsi didn’t want to make that mistake again. Not to mention that different sponsors would help The X Factor brand itself a new identity on Fox in the U.S. market outside of Idol’s shadow. No matter, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp is convinced that with both a reworked Idol kicking off this month and a transplated X Factor, Fox could have a banner 2011. Unless America is just saturated with talent contest shows. That’s not the case in Britain where Cowell’s UK version of The X Factor enjoyed its biggest season to date despite of, or because of, the constant controversies. Meanwhile, Fox is said to have earmarked a whopping $35 million to promote the launch of The X-Factor next fall.
The U.S. version of Simon Cowell’s reality smash The X Factor won’t premiere for another 10 months, but Fox is already launching its promotional campaign. Next: The Statue of Liberty morphing into Cowell?
Q&A With Simon Cowell About U.S. Version Of ‘The X Factor’ For Fall 2011: “Zero Rules. Anybody Can Enter, Anybody Can Compete”
EXCLUSIVE: Simon Cowell tells me that Fox has promised it will spend the same amount on the U.S. version of his The X Factor talent contest that the UK programme costs to produce – $2.4 million. Next year, Fox will broadcast it and American Idol in 2011 with Idol running from January to May, and The X Factor airing from September to December. Idol has been the biggest programme on American TV for the past 8 years, and is understood to contribute $200M-$300M to Fox network profits every year. So Cowell, 51, is feeling the pressure of matching that success. Meanwhile, the 7th UK cycle of his X Factor is costing ITV £50 million to make — but earns £72 million in revenue through a mixture of advertising (£50 million), sponsorship (£10 million), phone-line revenue (£5 million), the live tour (£5 million) and merchandise (£2 million). It is estimated that Simon Cowell’s production company Syco, co-producer Talkback Thames, and broadcaster ITV split the £22 million profits between them.
With a personal fortune estimated at £165 million, Cowell just signed his next £100 million 3-year deal to keep Got Talent and X Factor on UK TV. And I’ve learned that Cowell’s Syco also is developing a game show with links to the UK national lottery; the idea is to produce scratch cards that will let viewers join in at home for big cash prizes. Right now, it’s difficult to overemphasise how important The X Factor has become in the UK national consciousness because of he incessant chatter on radio, TV, and Fleet Street. I caught up with Cowell while he was preparing for Saturday night’s 2 1/2-hour show which peaked at 13.2 million viewers with a 51% audience share:
Deadline London: What changes are you going to make to the U.S. X Factor so that it’s different to the show we see over here?
Cowell: I said to everybody the other day, with the American show, just think blank sheet of paper. Don’t make any promises, don’t make any predictions. Go in with a blank sheet of paper right now. I can feel a change in the air. While everybody’s going left, we’re going to be going right.
DL: What do you mean, there’s a change in the air?
Cowell: Look, I’m not going to tell people in advance what we’re doing. When you’re making a reality show, you can’t even plan a week ahead now. So we’re hopefully going to be in sync with what’s happening in the States at the time. I like to try and make as many decisions as late as possible. What I will say is that it will be like nothing else you’ve seen before on American TV, I guarantee you that. There are a lot of surprises in store, there’s going to be a lot of surprises. But I’m going for it.
DL: How would you describe what the new show’s going to be like for U.S. viewers used to American Idol?
Cowell: Zero rules. Because I can’t bear rules. For instance, I’ve never liked the idea you have to be a certain age to be a pop star. I like the idea that anybody can enter, anybody can compete. And obviously the fact that groups can compete as well as individuals. They haven’t had that on American TV before. I thought long and hard about whether to bring the show over to America or not. The show’s done so well all over the world, and I think to myself ‘Is this room for one more show?’ What’s never happened in America before is a big talent show that runs up to Christmastime. The US show will run from September to December next year. We’re putting a lot of resources behind it. But the main thing is that we’re going to America because there’s a lot of talent in America and there’s a lot of people over the age of 30 who want to get to these shows as well. It should be a 14-year-old competing against a 50-year-old competing against the next ‘N Sync. That to me is an interesting show because it’s got a variety of contestants. And we are going to scour the whole country to make sure that the whole of America is aware of the show and is given the chance to audition in as many different places as possible.