U.K. Talent Show Ratings Competition Heats Up

Simon Cowell
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"I considered it, but then I thought, 'I don't think the after would be as good as the before.' I'd let her stay for a few hours, but then it would have to be goodnight."

The BBC's "The Voice" last weekend beat "Britain's Got Talent" on ITV in some measures, and Simon Cowell is reportedly considering a return to the U.K. "X Factor" via Skype.

LONDON - Talent competition shows in the U.K. are in the headlines here this week thanks to a ratings showdown and Simon Cowell.

Cowell's role on the U.S. version of X Factor means he won't have a full-time role on the U.K. singing show, which traditionally kicks off here in August. But in a move that could support ratings for the U.K. show, media reports here say Cowell is considering, among other things, appearing on it via Skype to have a final say when judges are at odds in what The Sun called a "voice of God" role.

An ITV representative confirmed an X Factor spokeswoman's comment that ideas for the new season are still being discussed, with Cowell closely involved with the show's direction.

Meanwhile, Cowell currently stars as a judge on ITV's Britain's Got Talent, which has been in a ratings showdown with The Voice on BBC1. In the U.S., America's Got Talent and The Voice both air on NBC.

This past Saturday, The Voice averaged 9.45 million viewers in the U.K., compared with 9.1 million for BGT - the first time it won overall. But BGT averaged 9.6 million viewers across the entire show when including viewing on ITV1+1, which airs ITV1 content one hour later and which the broadcaster says better reflects its strength.

BGT also had a higher peak audience of 11.9 million, compared with 10.7 million for The Voice.

In a 8-8:20pm overlap between the two shows, The Voice has been ahead in recent weeks. This past weekend, it beat BGT, which is up this season over last, more clearly - averaging 10 million viewers versus 6.2 million.

The Voice runs 7-8:20pm, while BGT airs 8-9:20pm.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai