Tonight, “America’s Got Talent” is returning to NBC after a pretty long wait, and there is one thing that is going to be immediately different about this season as opposed to some others in the past: The presence of Simon Cowell. He’s always been an executive producer on the series, but this is the first time that he’s stepped into the judge’s chair, replacing Howard Stern.
We know that Simon will have plenty of opinions tonight, and we also assume that the ratings will be at least okay. What we found interesting in the lead-up to the premiere tonight was hearing some of his comments regarding the American version of “The X Factor” and why that failed. Speaking to the New York Times, Cowell made it clear that the show probably made too many changes and alterations before they really needed to, and they set the bar too high for what the viewership would be in the modern era:
“I read a book once about Coke and Pepsi and it was called ‘The Other Guy Blinked.’” And we blinked. We thought 12 million [viewers] was bad. Now, I’m thinking, ‘Christ, if I could launch a show with 12 million today, I’d be a hero.’ But we beat ourselves up so much about it and we changed so many things. The show became unrecognizable. I blame myself, but we made crazy decisions. We didn’t treat it like a hit. We treated it as a failure. I wasn’t aware the market had gone down to that level so quickly. I was in this La-La Land head space of 30 or 40 million and I thought 12 million feels terrible.”
All of this is true, given that no most reality hits aren’t even getting 12 million viewers. We don’t think “The X Factor” had much staying power even in its original form, but the final two seasons of the show, with their complicated judging panels and constant format tweaks, did leave a lot to be desired.
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