Syco ponders what comes after ‘X’

Recent hire Watson key to upcoming Cowell projects

Judgement daze | Foreign-language TV still foreign to U.S. auds | ‘Dead’ show walking | ITV aims to boost international presence | ‘Camelot’ to define GK-TV’s young brand | Lionsgate looks beyond ‘Men’ | Fuji TV turns gaze globally | Syco ponders what comes after ‘X’
Territory Reports

How do you follow global breakout hits “Got Talent” and “The X Factor?”

That is the question obsessing Simon Cowell’s new right-hand, Ellis Watson.

In March, Watson, who successfully sold “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” to more than 100 countries during a three-year stint at Celador, was appointed managing director of Cowell’s new corporate vehicle, Syco Entertainment.

Syco, owned jointly by Cowell, Sony Music and U.K. retail billionaire Philip Green, is not content to rest on its laurels, despite the huge success of “Got Talent” — “China’s Got Talent” this year won world-record viewing figures of 400 million — and “The X Factor,” due to bow on Fox in the U.S. next fall.

“I will have failed if we don’t have something compelling on next year (other than ‘Got Talent’ and ‘The X Factor’),” Watson said recently. “What I need to do now is to make sure our third golden egg is as shiny and as tasty as our first two. We are not going to be like a factory where we keep knocking them out and hoping.”

Don’t expect another talent show from the Cowell hit machine.

“Development on the new show is a long way down the line,” says U.K. media journalist Raymond Snoddy, who recently interviewed Watson. “It will of course be in the entertainment genre, but not a traditional talent show.

“Once ‘The X Factor’ is established in the U.S. and the new show is launched, Syco is looking to continue creating new formats and offshoots over the next five years.”

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