‘Idol’ Debut Exposes ‘X Factor’s’ Real Unknown

One night does not a season make. But as I’ve stated before, the real unknown regarding “The X Factor” will be what effect having another competition show on in the fall has on the winter-spring run of “American Idol.”

Fox has understandably downplayed the idea that one show might cannibalize audience from the other. But the 25% drop in preliminary ratings for “Idol’s” return certainly raise the issue. And while Fox can say Judging_NJ_Day1_0217part of the problem is a proliferation of such shows across the dial, only Fox is responsible for “X Factor,” which looks more like “Idol” than any of the others.

Obviously, the producers of “Idol” recognized this threat, which explains the legal wrangling over the program’s launch in the U.S.

Of course, even with a significant decline “Idol” remains a juggernaut. But nothing stays airborne forever. And if “X Factor” hastens “Idol’s” descent back to the ratings orbit of mere mortals, Fox might wind up regretting the day it agreed to “X Factor” after resisting the temptation to do two editions of “Idol” a season.

As they famously said in “Wall Street,” “Greed is good.” But it can also have unintended consequences. And while we’ll never know exactly what the impact of “X Factor” was on “Idol,” by May, there ought to be enough evidence for a pretty good accounting of what Fox gained — and lost — in the bargain.


More Voices

  • Stock market Stock buyback

    Stock Buybacks Leave Firms Without Funds to Invest in Future (Column)

    Corporate giants on the S&P 500 have spent more than $720 billion during the past year on stock buybacks. Media and entertainment firms account for only a fraction of that spending, but even $1 million spent on share repurchases seems a foolhardy expenditure at this transformational moment for the industry. The record level of spending [...]

  • Hollywood Has Come Far With Diversity

    An Insider's Look at Hollywood's Diversity Efforts and How Far It Still Needs to Go

    I am a white man working in Hollywood. I grew up in Beverlywood, an all-white, predominantly Jewish, Los Angeles neighborhood sandwiched between 20th Century Fox Studios and MGM, where my elementary school had only one black student. I am compelled to write about diversity in Hollywood because “diversity” — in front of and behind the camera [...]

  • Venice Film Festival A Star is

    How Venice, Toronto and Telluride Festivals Stole Cannes' Luster (Column)

    In all the years I’ve been attending film festivals, I have never seen a lineup that looked as good on paper as Venice’s did this fall, boasting new films by Alfonso Cuarón (“Roma”), Damien Chazelle (“First Man”), Paul Greengrass (“22 July”), Mike Leigh (“Peterloo”) and the Coen brothers (“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”) in competition, [...]

  • Black Women in Medicine BTS

    Hollywood Needs to Include People With Disabilities on Both Sides of the Camera (Guest Column)

    In five years, nothing has changed. Despite open calls for greater diversity and inclusion, recent research shows that there was little change in the number of characters with disabilities in popular films in 2017. A study conducted by the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism found that [...]

  • Seven Seconds

    Fighting the Racial Bias at the Core of Hollywood’s Cop Shows (Guest Column)

    If fiction is the lie that tells a deeper truth, the TV crime genre has been, for the most part, the lie that simply tells a lie. As a storyteller (Veena) and an advocate for racial justice (Rashad), we collaborated for the past two-and-a-half years in an attempt to reimagine the roles of cops, victims, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content