2014 marks the first time in a dozen years that Simon Cowell hasn’t had a weekly presence on American television. Fox announced back in February that it would not renew The X Factor for a fourth season, but Cowell already believes it’s time for the show to return stateside. “I think it will come back again,” Cowell told FT Weekend (via The Hollywood Reporter).
While it’s been a long time since a contestant on any of the U.S. singing competition shows have reached the level of Carrie Underwood or Kelly Clarkson, Cowell is assured by the success of U.K. X Factor winners One Direction that the format is still capable of discovering stars.
“There’s a reason it produces so many stars, unlike the other shows. It doesn’t rely on gimmicks: a spinning chair, or a wall going up and down. I genuinely do believe it’s the best format,” Cowell said. The snarky Brit’s comments are aimed at rival singing competitions NBC’s The Voice and ABC’s Rising Star that takes the focus off its contestants and onto its star-studded judges. This isn’t Cowell’s first time taking aim at The Voice: In 2012, he said NBC’s decision to place their singing competition in the same time slot as The X Factor was “a cynical, cold-hearted, unprofessional way of doing business.”
So why did The X Factor fail here despite sustained success over the Atlantic? Cowell thinks it’s because he overestimated how popular the show would be here. “I stupidly said at the beginning, ‘We’re going to get 20 million people.’ I didn’t realize the market had changed so quickly and we got 12,” Cowell told FT Weekend. “So I felt from the outset that we’d failed and so did everybody else. I should have thought, ‘Actually, 12 is fantastic’, and kept my mouth shut. I think, on both sides, it was a mistake to throw the towel in.”
In its third and – for now – final season, The X Factor averaged just over six million viewers. That’s well under what The Voice draws each episode, but nearly double the number of viewers Rising Star scored in its debut season. Cowell is currently serving as a judge on the British X Factor.