From 'Idol' to 'The X Factor'

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The twisty road to talent show dominance.

2001: U.K.'s Pop Idol Launches
Simon Fuller's creation is an unexpected hit, thanks in large part to salty judge Simon Cowell and exceptional talent like winner Will Young.

2002: American Idol is Born
Fox's Mike Darnell greenlights Idol. By season one's end, viewership is 12.7 million. Its pact with Simon Fuller's 19 Entertainment is amended.

2004: Simon Cowell and Simon Fuller Settle
In an effort to keep Cowell on American Idol through 2010, Fuller secedes Pop Idol from the U.K. Cowell launches X Factor, with 7.4 million tuning in for season one.

2008: Cheryl Cole Joins U.K. X Factor
The Girls Aloud singer got her start in reality TV, winning U.K.'s Popstars in 2002. As a judge on the U.K. X Factor, she coaches two groups to victory.

2009: Paula Abdul Leaves Idol
"Contrary to what people say, it's not always about the money," Abdul says of her Idol departure. "I wanted to try something different. Change is good."

2010: Cowell Announces His Idol Exit
With season nine about to kick off, Cowell announces at the TCA winter press tour that it will be his last. "When I left, I was genuinely emotional," he says. "It had been great for me, but it was time to do something new."

2010: Fox Finalizes U.S. X Factor Deal
A month after Cowell's final Idol bow, Fox announces the arrival of X Factor. "People aren't done with the genre," says Darnell.

2011: X Factor Rules the U.K. Charts
Cher Lloyd comes in fourth on X Factor but has the No. 1 single in the U.K. on Aug. 7. At No. 2: season five's JLS.

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