'X Factor' Saves Big by Replacing Britney Spears

X Factor season 3 table Lovato Cowell Rubio Rowland L
Ray Mickshaw / FOX

New judges Kelly Rowland and Paulina Rubio are slated to earn a far cry from the star's $15 million salary as they join Simon Cowell amid a steep ratings slide.

This story first appeared in the May 31 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Simon Cowell is downsizing The X Factor.

The May 20 hiring of Kelly Rowland and Paulina Rubio as season-three judges is likely to save Fox and producers FremantleMedia and Cowell’s Syco a lot of cash.

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Sources tell THR that the new recruits will cost a fraction of the $15 million that Britney Spears commanded in season two: around $1 million for former Destiny’s Child singer Rowland, 32, and closer to $1.5 million for Rubio, 41, a Mexican singer-actress who also pulls down a judge’s salary for La Voz Kids, a Spanish-language kids version of The Voice airing on Telemundo.

Even with Spears joining Cowell, L.A. Reid and Demi Lovato last season, X Factor lost 20 percent of its 18-to-49 audience, with ad revenue dropping from $502 million in year one to $386 million in 2012, according to Kantar Media.

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Rowland is making about what Lovato received when she joined the show. It’s believed Lovato asked for double her fee after her well-received debut on the show.

According to reports, Rowland earned about $750,000 for her one-season turn on X Factor U.K. in 2011, so her new pay actually is a small raise. Says a source close to the dealmaking: "Salaries are all over the place because ratings are all over the place.” That's especially true of X Factor, adds the insider, which has struggled to find its footing.

A Fox rep declined comment.

Twitter: @shirleyhalperin