ITV plans multi-media assault for 'X-Factor'

Seventh series of talent show to feature guest judges

LONDON – Commercial broadcaster ITV is planning an all out digital and social media assault for the seventh series of its flagship Saturday night show "The X-Factor," starring and produced by Simon Cowell.

The broadcaster said it will air in high definition on the HD version of its ITV1 channel in addition to the normal version Saturday night and will also air "sneak peak" footage and breaking news on its 1.3 million strong Facebook fan page. This season also sees the launch of a standalone website for its spin-off show "The Xtra Factor" which airs on ITV2.

Production banner talkbackTHAMES digital and ITV are also teaming to launch a free Ovi App with cellphone partner Nokia to showcase news, gossip, ring tones, karaoke games, competitions and a catchphrase soundboard from the series.

Fans can also follow this season's "X-Factor" on twitter where there are more than 60,000 followers already.

The whole circus surrounding Cowell's creation involves three strands of ITV, international distributor FremantleMedia Enterrpises and is a talkbackTHAMES and Syco TV production for ITV.

Cowell is joined by a series of guest judges for this season alongside regulars Louis Walsh and Cheryl Cole. Joining Cowell on the road is former Spice Girl Geri Haliwell, soap star-turned-pop crooner Natalie Imbruglia, singers Pixie Lott and Katy Perry and U.S. songstress Nicole Scherzinger.

Dermot O'Leary returns to host the main ITV1 show while former BBC presenter Konnie Huq is aboard to host "The Xtra Factor."

Cowell played down the risk of the judges overshadowing the contestants on the top rated reality show here.

"The judges are there for their opinions, so for me the most important criteria for sitting on a judging panel is, do you actually know what you are talking about," Cowell said.

talkbackTHAMES head of entertainment Richard Holloway said: "Our guest judges have added a new dimension to auditions, 
and we're delighted that such amazing acts continue to audition for their chance in the spotlight". 

The series returns to British screens Saturday, Aug. 21.
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