To show you how much the television has changed in say, just the last five years, all you have to do is look at AMC’s record-breaking “The Walking Dead” and Simon Cowell and his US incarnation of “X-Factor”. I know, you are asking, “What’s the link, here Tony Potts?”.
Here it is: Had I told you in 2007 that Simon Cowell was bringing a huge hit show from Europe to the US and that it’s Season 2 premier episode would be soundly trounced by a show on AMC (freakin’ AMC AND a zombie show???), you would have asked what drugs I was taking.
But that is the state of television/content today. A huge, bloated show like the “X-Factor” and all it’s pretentiousness can’t even hold a candle to Zombies. They’re the Walking Dead for cryin’ out loud!!
Plus, I love the direction of tv/content these days –espesh the strength of cable (love Suits @USA) because viewers…the consumers of this content…are in even more control than before. They’re smarter. They’re quicker to call bullshit, bullshit! and hit social media to rant about it.
Funny how Simon’s rants back in the day on American Idol attracted tens of millions of views and now it’s the viewers rants that have taken center stage in the form of millions and millions of voices.
Can’t wait to see what’s to come!
I first met Simon Cowell on a fabulous Cali evening in Beverly Hills. He answered the door, no entourage, no ‘anything’ really, save for a big smile and an incredibly warm disposition. The door he opened was attached to a house owned by Neil Simon. Neil had a lil’ something to do with shaping television…not to mention the stage (Pulitzer n’ Tony’s) and movies (Oscar noms). Cowell would help shape television soon enough. But on this night, Simon was new to America. He had just been introduced to the country a few weeks earlier, in June 2002 when “American Idol: Search for a Superstar” (as it was originally called) debuted.
A quick perspective is in order: A small audience of a little more than 9-million saw the first show. That was a meager rating (6.1/11 share) back in 2002. That kind of rating could get a show cancelled. Remember, that’s when Friends was averaging 22-million a week and a 15/24 share. The show vacillated most of the summer between 7.5 million viewers and 12-million viewers until hitting ratings’ gold with its 20th show. Yes, 20th show. More than 15-million watched and AI ranked as the #1 show of the week. The first of many #1s.
Now back to Beverly Hills.
On this night, I would conduct Simon’s first-ever U.S. television interview. We would broadcast it nationwide the next day on Access Hollywood. The rest is a well-known history.
So, the question becomes, with such momentum coming out of his years at Idol, how did Simon so massively bungle bringing ‘X-Factor’ to America?
How about overselling, under delivering (especially creatively) and shoving the show (and how great it was supposed to be) down American’s throats?
Make no mistake, we like underdogs. We do not like to be force-fed anything. You would think Simon being British, coupled with America’s history with the British, he would instinctively understand the factors at play here.
In addition, the longer anyone continues to say how great they are while not bringing the goods, the more annoying it becomes. In any country. Sure, if you have an accent, you get a pass for a while. But soon enough, the people will rise up —grab the remote and turn the channel to….The Voice.
Remember Simon famously saying anything less than 20+ million viewers for the series debut would be a failure?
When the series debut netted a woeful 12.5 million viewers in September of 2011, FOX network and Cowell had a huge, over-budget, over-promised to advertisers, under-delivering, bloated problem on their hands. And don’t think for a minute that FOX didn’t have to make up millions of dollars in advertising to clients. Look, advertisers were paying for 20+ million viewers and Cowell delivered just 12+ million. It’s like paying for the buffet at the Bellagio in Vegas and instead getting two eggs, toast and coffee from Denny’s.
Now Simon has an even bigger problem. The 2012 version couldn’t even crack 9-million viewers in it premier. Yes, it’s PREMIER! In the UK, it’s still a smash. But here, it’s a bona-fide dud.
Simon and X-Factor USA are just like a contestant Simon addressed a few weeks ago. He called the former boy band member “so ten years ago and irrelevant.” As the very relevant and creative Gordon Ramsey would say, “Damn. Shame. “ I agree. I had such high hopes for the show.