On March 24, Simon Cowell‘s TV series Britain’s Got Talent lost a significant portion of its ratings to the UK version of The Voice, which premiered on the exact same night. According to The Daily Mail, during a brief 20-minute time frame where the two programs overlapped, The Voice secured 2.4 million more viewers than BGT, proving that, if given the option, more people would prefer to tune into The Voice rather than its reality rival.
It also proves that Cowell appears to be losing his touch when it comes to launching dynamite shows. America was officially introduced to the British music mogol in 2002, when he made his State-side judging debut on the opening season of American Idol. His blunt criticism and no-nonsense candor erupted in instant fame, pegging him as the meanest, most watchable person in television.
But something’s happened to Cowell over the past few years. He’s lost his magnetic appeal and people are no longer tuning into his shows like they used to — in both the UK and the U.S. Has the rudest, crudest judge of them all somehow lost his mojo? The ratings certainly indicate as much.
Sure, The Voice’s ratings win alone wouldn’t be enough to justify this claim, but this isn’t the first time Cowell’s delivered anticlimactic results in comparison with his competitors. Before The X Factor USA premiered in September 2011, he promised Fox he would deliver a minimum of 20 million viewers, but fell drastically short when he garnered 12.1 million viewers during opening night.
Indeed, Cowell’s return was incredibly underwhelming, especially in comparison to his earlier judging gig on American Idol, which delivered 21.9 million viewers during its January 2012 premiere alone — and that’s despite it’s 24 percent ratings dip from 2011. Idol may not rake in the same fans it used to, but it’s still a significant reality show powerhouse that Cowell is desperately trying to match up with. There are still a few things he needs to fix on the singing show if he hopes for it to sustain the test of television time, but, for now, The X Factor remains mediocre at best.
The numbers indicate the much of the public is no longer looking for judges to just spout off insults and rude remarks to singers. There needs to be a creative edge that adds more intrigue to the a-star-is-born process. And The Voice seems to be America, and Britain’s, new cup of tea.
During its series debut in the U.S. in 2011, The Voice earned 11.78 million viewers, making it the most watched telecast of the night. And its ratings have only continued to grow. For its Season Two premiere (which aired right after the Superbowl on Feb. 5), the show gained a whopping 37.6 million viewers. Of course, the increase in viewership can somewhat be credited to the show’s strategic placement after the monumental football game, but it still shows just how much interest even sports fans are taking into the unique singing show.
But even amid these impressive statistics, Cowell is never one to feel threatened. In an interview with Extra last February, the British star was asked if he feels threatened at all by his NBC competition, to which he gave a very Simon-like response. “I would ask how many records have they made, how many artists have they discovered?” said Cowell. “It’s very important that you have people on the panel that have actually signed and made artists successful all over the world, not just have made hit records yourself.”
Sooner or later, however, Cowell’s going to have to face facts: the numbers are not in his favor and he needs to do something to amp up his withering appeal. Sarcasm can only get your so far in this business.
Do you think Simon has lost his appeal or has he just hit a temporary ratings slump?