Simon Cowell's 'The X Factor' Premieres Lower Than 'American Idol'
UPDATED: 12.5 million tune in for "X Factor," which bowed to an 8.7 household rating, down nearly 50 percent compared to the tenth season premiere of "American Idol."
The premiere of Simon Cowell’s highly hyped The X Factor did not stack up to American Idol, the show Cowell famously exited in order to mount X Factor.
X Factor averaged an 8.7 household rating (with a 4.4 rating in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic), while the tenth season premiere of Idol pulled in a 16.4 rating in households.
Fox won the night in demo, but not in total viewers. According to time-zone adjusted ratings for Fox, 12.5 million tuned in to watch X Factor, while 14.1 million tuned into CBS' Criminal Minds and 12.6 million for CSI, which was Ted Danson's debut, according to preliminary numbers.
ABC came close in the demo, scoring a 4.1 with 14.4 million viewers tuning in to Modern Family, which beat X Factor in head-to-head competition at 9 p.m., drawing a 9.8 household rating. And CBS' Criminal Minds also inched past it; pulling in an 8.9 compared to X Factor's 8.6 from 9-10 p.m. Minds, however scored a 3.5 in the demo.
It’s a bit of a quiet start for a show with the richest prize on television – a $5 million recording contract – and one that Fox spent $250 million on just to wrestle the U.S. rights away from NBC.
Cowell himself told The Hollywood Reporter that anything less than 20 million viewers would be a “disappointment.”
But competition shows typically build as the season wears on and viewers become invested in the contestants. And few (except perhaps the extremely confident Cowell) expected the two-hour premiere to rival ratings for the established American Idol. The tenth season opener of Idol, with Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler as judges, drew 26.2 million viewers and a 9.7 rating in the 18-49 demo. By comparison, 9.7 million viewers tuned in for the 2002 series premiere of American Idol.
The tenth season opener of Idol was down 13 percent – the show’s biggest premiere-to-premiere drop ever – compared to the ninth season opener, Cowell’s last year on the show.
The ninth season premiere of Idol – which started out big and trended down with a disjointed season with a chemistry-less judges panel featuring Cowell, Randy Jackson, Ellen DeGeneres and Kara DioGuardi – pulled in 30 million viewers and an 11.8 rating in the 18-49 demographic.