'X Factor': With 10 Million Votes Cast, How Does it Compare to 'American Idol'? (Analysis)
Although the show neglected to reveal the total vote count during Thursday's elimination episode, Simon Cowell says he's pleased with the number.
It wasn’t exactly advertised, but the first episode of X Factor to offer the public a chance to be heard brought in “around 10 million” votes, according to Simon Cowell.
The show’s head judge and creator seemed quite pleased with that number following Thursday’s elimination episode, which sent the group inTENsity home. “Ten million is a lot,” he told The Hollywood Reporter, noting that there were no technical glitches or hiccups during Wednesday’s window, which introduced Twitter voting for the first time.
So how did X Factor’s vote total compare to predecessor and Cowell alma mater American Idol? It’s hard to judge at this juncture seeing as the singing competition concept was relatively novel during the first season of Idol, which aired during the summer. Its initial go-round in 2002 (when there were still 30 semifinalists) brought in 3.3 million votes. By the finale, some 15.5 million called in (these were the days before text) leading Kelly Clarkson to victory (X Factor is nearly at that mark it’s only the second live episode). In total, 110 million votes were cast that season.
The second year of Idol, when Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard squared off for the title, 24 million votes came in after the finale. As Idol legend goes, Studdard, who won, and Aiken were only 134,000 votes apart.
Indeed, Idol voting numbers vary quite dramatically from season to season, and in typical form, the producers are selective about the results they do release -- usually presented by Ryan Seacrest with extra enunciation for effect.
For example, while tallies are available for every finale since the show’s start, year 9’s performance show only revealed a total season count of 500 million, neglecting to break it down. It’s believed the numbers paled in comparison to the previous year’s showdown between eventual winner Kris Allen and Adam Lambert, which drew 100 million votes. Idol’s vote count first spiked during season 7’s David (Cook) vs. David (Archuleta) duel -- 97 million weighed in on that finale night.
Even more impressive? Season 10’s final bow when eventual winner Scotty McCreery and runner-up Lauren Alaina received an eye-popping 122 million votes. Clearly, Cowell's new show has a ways to go -- the ratings gap, which finds X Factor lagging by 10 million viewers, is nothing if not a constant reminder. Now, with a second season pickup, it will get that chance, much like the contestants it nurtures.
Check out the vote counts for all American Idol season finales below:
Season 1 (Kelly Clarkson, winner): 15.5 million
Season 2 (Ruben Studdard): 24 million
Season 3 (Fantasia Barrino): 65 million
Season 4 (Carrie Underwood): 37 million
Season 5 (Taylor Hicks): 63.5 million
Season 6 (Jordin Sparks): 74 million
Season 7 (David Cook): 97 million
Season 8 (Kris Allen): 100 million
Season 9 (Lee DeWyze): unreleased, but the previous week’s vote count had come in around 47 million*
Season 10 (Scotty McCreery): 122 million