Just confirmed at a Television Critics Association Press Tour is what many have been speculating for weeks: Simon Cowell will depart American Idol after this season and launch The X Factor on Fox for an early 2011 broadcast.
Simon Cowell, who created and launched THE X FACTOR in the U.K. in 2004, will serve as both executive producer and judge on the U.S. version of The X Factor, which will be produced by Syco Television and FremantleMedia North America.
It seems American Idol will go on, as FOX's current deal with American Idol producers, FremantleMedia and 19 Productions, runs through 2011 but a new deal guarantees three additional seasons of the show, with or without Cowell.
Cowell signed his X Factor contract today. Says the talent show master of Idol's future: "I'm confident it will continue to be the No. 1 show."
Fox executive Peter Rice says that the network is committed to both The X Factor and Idol. Additional X Factor judges will be announced shortly.
Reports Zap2it.com, Cowell chose to left American Idol simply because he wanted something new and that as The X Factor has fewer contestant rules, he is hoping to find the American Susan Boyle.
Speculation on Cowell's exit began in December when Simon Cowell's brother, Tony Cowell, revealed on his weekly The Cowell Factor podcast that Simon would be leaving the show in 2010 to concentrate on other ventures. Said Tony, "A press statement is being prepared which will confirm what everybody expected: Simon will leave Idol at the end of 2010 to concentrate on bringing the American version of The X Factor to U.S. TV in 2011."
The X Factor is currently shown in 17 countries worldwide with a global audience of more than 500 million, and is the No. 1 TV entertainment format in Europe. Cowell will continue to serve as both executive producer and judge on the U.K. version. The X Factor format is owned by Syco, a global music, television and film production joint venture between Cowell and Sony Music Entertainment.
"I'm thrilled that we have put a date on the launch of the U.S. version of The X Factor, and delighted to be continuing to work with FOX," said Cowell. "We have a fantastic relationship, a great team and are all very excited about this."
Mike Darnell, President of Alternative Entertainment, Fox Broadcasting Company, said, "We have had a very successful relationship with Simon Cowell for many years, and we're absolutely delighted to continue our relationship with him. THE X FACTOR has been a massive success around the world, and we can't wait to bring it to the U.S. in 2011."