Simon Cowell Talks 'X Factor' Renewal, Future Format Shake-Ups
The show's creator is hopeful that he will get a fourth season and is already plotting some big changes to boost tanking ratings.
The X Factor U.S. wraps its third season this week. The final three standing: duo Alex & Sierra, mentored by show creator and head judge Simon Cowell, Jeff Gutt, the last member of Kelly Rowland's team, and Carlito Olivero, coached by Paulina Rubio.
But no matter who wins on Thursday night, a bigger unknown still lingers: Will the singing competition be back?
Although there has yet to be any official word, Cowell told reporters on a Monday conference call, "I think the show will be coming back next year. As to my role on it, I might have a different kind of role -- we haven't discussed that yet."
Despite the tanking ratings, Cowell said he's proud of season three. "I think the show started off OK; I thought the four-chair challenge was terrific and the early live shows were OK and the last two weeks have been amazing," he said.
"As a series, particularly because of the talent, because of what Alex & Sierra have achieved on iTunes over the last couple of weeks -- [which] is phenomenal -- I'm really happy that the show has achieved what it set out to achieve, which is to find a star."
Cowell didn't comment much further on his secret plans for reshaping the show, but he did admit he probably wouldn't keep the same judging panel. Currently consisting of Rubio, Demi Lovato and Rowland, he's ready for some shake-ups that could also include a format change.
"I think that we're gonna have a very crowded marketplace," he explained. "What we have with X Factor is a huge core fan base that loves the show, but we have got to be more than that. We're in the middle of a conversation about, 'This is what we think the show should look like, what the fans would like,' so my role may change, but I can't say any more than that."
He's also considering switching to a one-night-only format instead of the Wednesday/Thursday live shows we have seen so far. Said Cowell: "I won't say which night, but I think it's a better night for us and if we get it, that would be amazing. The thing about these shows over the years is they started off as one-hour shows and now it's two hours or two and a half hours and then an hour show the next day. That's like watching a movie. It's getting to be probably too much. When the shows are popular, the networks want to make them longer, and that's not necessarily a good thing."
Cowell isn't too discouraged by the fact that his show is trailing behind NBC competitor The Voice in the ratings.
"Of course we're not happy about it, but we're all big boys and when you run a record label and a TV company, sometimes you win and sometimes you're in second or third place," he said. "The great thing about our team is it never gets us down and everybody works that much harder."
Cowell is sure his team will take home the win on this week's finale. "When Alex & Sierra auditioned for the show, I thought they would win because of all the shows this year, in my opinion, they are by far the best artists to come through," he said. "I want the show to end with the best act winning the show."
Asked if he would continue to work with the lovebirds, Cowell affirmed his commitment: "I would be an idiot not to."
Sundance: On the Scene