Simon Cowell Fires Everybody

I don’t really know what to say about the X Factor fire-pocalypse, with everyone except Simon Cowell being booted off the show as Cowell attempts to fix the U.S. version. I guess if you’re going to retool, you should retool this way, because it guarantees a lot of media coverage, a lot of stories, and a whole round of new stories when they roll out the new hosts and judges. Firing one person, or firing all these people at different times, wouldn’t have the same impact.

The ratings of The X Factor for the first season were, let’s remember, quite good by today’s standards – better than almost anything else the network currently has. They weren’t what Fox and Cowell were apparently were hoping for, so the key issue for them is whether they move up or down in the second season: some shows start well and do better, others start well and then do worse. If The X Factor stays at its current level or builds, it’ll be fine, but if it drops, it could be in trouble. So the retool is an attempt to make it go up, rather than down.

Will it work? It sometimes works. Throwing out a lot of the weak points and revamping a show while ratings are still good is sometimes a viable strategy. Especially when it’s clear that the show doesn’t offer anything in particular that people really love. (With a bigger hit show, a retool faces the risk of throwing out the stuff viewers like; they can toss out the weak elements, only to discover that those were actually a bigger part of the show’s popularity than they realized. But The X Factor doesn’t inspire strong feelings. It’s mostly coasting on American Idol‘s brand name. So the number of people turning away because Steve Jones is gone may be even less than the number of angry Brian Dunkleman fans.) However, most retools don’t really help; they just move pieces around and end up with the same problems as before, just with different names. Since The X Factor in any version is pretty much the same show as American Idol, it can’t really change all that much. So it may be that the best it can do is make a lot of noise about personnel changes, get itself into the gossip magazines a lot, and hope that that draws people in to what is fundamentally the same show.

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