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Simon Cowell Plots Revamp of ‘X Factor’ to Boost Ratings in the U.K.

Simon Cowell and his team are plotting the biggest changes to “X Factor” on ITV in the show’s history in an attempt to boost ratings and secure a new deal for the talent competition on British television.

Amid reports of wholesale format changes, there were rumors that the show was effectively being shelved, a move that would rock the entertainment TV landscape in the U.K. But a source close to the show poured cold water on that theory. “The ‘X Factor’ has not been axed and will be back on ITV later this year,” the insider said.

Cowell and the producers are looking to radically revamp the show, however, and considering ditching the public auditions and introducing celebrity contestants. There is also talk of a Champions segment that would feature winners from different international editions.

The format is a big seller for Fremantle, which handles distribution. Its production company, Thames, makes the show with Cowell’s SyCo. Any changes to the British version of the show would not necessarily be introduced elsewhere in the world.

ITV and SyCo renewed their deal for “X Factor” and stablemate “Britain’s Got Talent” for three years in 2016. The 15th series of the show aired on ITV last year.

Last season opened to record low ratings, but it remains one of the most-watched weekend primetime shows in the U.K. ITV programming boss Kevin Lygo appeared to give the show his backing at an industry breakfast last week. “It’s still a really big show for us – the audition shows do really well and then it does tail off a bit during the live shows,” he said. “It’s not as if the producers and Simon aren’t trying everything to keep it refreshed.”

He added that “almost anything you put in there to replace it wouldn’t do as well to start with.”

The U.K. series has featured the likes of One Direction and Little Mix, who have gone on to become hugely successful.

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