How ‘X Factor’ Continues to Undermine ‘Idol’

Are you fired up about the big judging changes Fox will be making during the coming season?

Really? Just to clarify: The ones on “The X Factor,” or the ones on “American Idol?”

XfactorjudgesThe announcement that Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler are leaving “Idol” ought to provide an opportunity for the producers to build excitement, what with all the suspense associated with re-filling those shoes.

Except Fox will go through the exact same process during the fall with Simon Cowell’s makeover of “X Factor,” so by the time “Idol’s” season rolls around, there will likely be an element of fatigue (Britney! Demi!), which ought to blunt whatever casting rabbits they pull out of their cash-stuffed hats.

The result? More pressure to make attention-getting, tabloid-type choices that will surely generate media coverage, but also threaten the more wholesome aspects of the “Idol” brand.

As I stated a couple of months ago, we’ll never know exactly how much “X Factor” contributed to “Idol’s” decline last season, but I still think it’s fair to ask whether the ratings gains Fox enjoyed in the fall were eradicated by what was lost in the winter and spring. Certainly, Nigel Lythgoe has acknowledged the influx of singing competitions as a factor, though I think the similarities between “X Factor” and “Idol” (let’s face it, they’re basically the same show) exacerbate the problem.

Of course, the timing means if Fox hasn’t squared away its whole “American Idol” talent lineup before the TV Critics Assn. tour in a couple of weeks the press will have a field day probing and speculating, but inasmuch as the show doesn’t premiere until January, that’s little more than an inconvenient blip.

The bigger problem, frankly, can be traced to an abundant commodity that was once arguably “Idol’s” biggest asset: Simon Cowell’s ego.

 

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