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How 'X Factor' Ratings Stack Up to Its Competitors (So Far)

The show may fall shy of Simon Cowell's lofty projections, but the reality competition is holding steady after two weeks on the air.

X Factor - Episodic Still - 2011
Fox

Four episodes in and Fox's The X Factor is settling into its new home.

When X Factor bowed last Wednesday, the highly anticipated competition series from former American Idol judge Simon Cowell didn't exactly measure up to Fox's Idol juggernaut. And Simon Cowell himself told The Hollywood Reporter that anything less than 20 million total viewers would be a "disappointment." In response, Fox entertainment boss Kevin Reilly told THR prior to the debut, "I don't know that we would put it in quite those same terms. But like he says all the time: Nobody goes out to win the bronze medal. Is the show capable of doing 20 million? It sure is."

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Disappointment or not, the X Factor premiere didn't rewrite the record books. (In fact, Fox's reality boss Mike Darnell told THR following the debut, "Right now, I’m relieved. The expectations were ridiculous and we knew that.”) Averaging an 8.7 household rating to its premiere, which lured 12.5 million and posted a 4.4 rating in the key adults 18-49 demographic, X Factor was nearly half of what the 10th season opener of Idol did (16.4). But in its second episode, X Factor held up, averaging an 8.3 household rating, a mere 5 percent dip from the premiere; it also retained 100 percent of its debut audience, delivering 12.5 million, and dropping just one-tenth in the ad-coveted demo to a 4.3.

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As is the case with new shows, X Factor settled into its Wednesday-Thursday home in its second week, with the last of its audition episodes hovering around the 12 million mark and a 4.0 rating. Wednesday's effort averaged 11.9 million viewers and a 4.1 rating, while the final audition episode on Thursday attracted 12.2 million and retained 98 percent in the demo from the previous night. What's more, the most recent episode growing in each half hour; from 8-8:30 p.m., X Factor averaged a 3.1 and from 9:30-10 p.m., improved to a 4.3, according to fast nationals.

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Though The Voice only aired once a week until the top eight performed in mid-June, when X Factor is compared to the second week of NBC's breakout (which launched to a 5.1 rating among adults 18-49), X Factor is well behind in the demo. The Voice averaged 12.6 million viewers and a 5.7 among the adults 18-49 demo for the May 3 episode, the last of the blind auditions. (X Factor did best The Voice premiere earlier this year by about half a million total viewers.) Compared to the second week of the most recent season of Idol, X Factor is looking at overcoming a steep hill. That's because Idol drew 25.3 million and a 9.2 rating and 22.5 million viewers and a 7.7 rating to its Jan. 26 and 27 episodes, respectively.

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Thus far this season, X Factor has consistently topped Dancing With the Stars in the demo. Even so, Darnell is aware of the tough competition.

“Right now, we won an extraordinarily competitive night with Modern Family and an endless stream of shows,” Darnell said on Sept. 22, the day ratings came out for X Factor's debut. On that day, ABC bested Fox in the demo by about 7 percent from 8-10 p.m.

When asked how Cowell reacted to the premiere ratings, Darnell said, “I haven’t talked to him yet. He was up all night.” He added, “I think he’ll be happy that we won the night. And he’ll be assuming that it will grow.”