LOS ANGELES (AdAge.com) -- "American Idol" was off to a splendid start in the U.S. last week, drawing in nearly 30 million viewers, but the hype was dimmed (or fueled, depending on how you look at it) over whether the program will fare as well next season without its iconic judge, Simon Cowell. The brutal Brit is not returning to the program but will instead devote his high-priced time to "X Factor," the U.K. hit that will be coming to the U.S. in 2011.
Could America vote in "X Factor" over "Idol"? Ad Age decided to compare and contrast the two.
American Idol: Ad revenue for the 2009 season slipped to $858.9 million from a series record $903.29 million in 2008, according to TNS Media Intelligence.
The British series brought in around $120 million in advertising, plus $30 million from phone votes (charged at 60 cents from a landline and significantly more from cellphones). Sponsorship revenue is about $10 million a year, according to media-buyer estimates.
MAJOR TIE-IN SPONSORS
American Idol: Ford, AT&T and Coca-Cola have been sponsors since season one; Apple joined in 2008.
Nokia sponsored the first three series, Carphone Warehouse sponsored the next two, and its subsidiary Talk Talk was the 2009 sponsor.
American Idol: Dreyer's American Idol Ice Cream, "Chicken Soup for the American Idol Soul" book, "Karaoke Revolution Presents: American Idol" game, American Idol Monopoly, American Idol Barbie.
Karaoke machines, karaoke booths in shopping malls, books, T-Shirts, mugs, key-rings, badges.
BIGGEST RECORD SELLERS
American Idol: Carrie Underwood, 10.5 million albums sold; Kelly Clarkson, 10.4 million albums sold; Chris Daughtry, 5.35 million albums sold; Clay Aiken, 4.9 million albums sold. All figures are U.S. numbers, according to Billboard SoundScan.
Leona Lewis, the 2006 winner, has been the only big star so far. She has sold 7 million albums worldwide.
American Idol: Unknown singers compete for the chance to win a contract with 19 Entertainment/RCA Recordings and a slot on the American Idols Live tour via fan-determined vote. Musical artists appearing as mentors or guests include Lady Gaga, Dolly Parton, Mariah Carey, George Michael, Neil Diamond and Andrew Lloyd Weber.
Unknown singers and groups compete for the chance to win contracts with Sony Music and Modest Management, plus a slot on the "X Factor" live tour via fan-determined telephone vote. The shows are also the chief showcase for recording artists on U.K. TV. Whitney Houston, Bon Jovi, Black-Eyed Peas, Shakira, Mariah Carey, Rihanna, Alicia Keyes, Lady Gaga, George Michael and Sir Paul McCartney all boosted their sales significantly after they appeared on the latest series.
American Idol: Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul (left in summer 2009), Kara DioGuardi (joined in 2009), Ellen Degeneres (joined in 2010).
Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole (from girl band Girls Aloud, which was formed in 2002 as part of another ITV1 talent show, "Pop Stars: The Rivals"), Dannii Minogue. (Australian singer and sister of Kylie), Louis Walsh (music promoter and manager).
American Idol: 19 Entertainment, Fremantle Media North America
Co-produced by Fremantle Media, Talkback Thames and Simon Cowell's production company, Syco TV.
American Idol: Has been on a year-over-year decline since season six (2007), and closed its eighth season with the lowest rated spring series and finale ever, finishing with 28.8 million total viewers. However, the ninth season opener shows signs of resurgence, out-delivering the previous year's season premiere by a 10th of a ratings point and debuting to 29 million viewers.
This year's series averaged 11.8 million, (45.4% audience share), up almost two million on last year's series average. An enormous peak audience of 19.1 million -- 62% audience share -- watched the final show on ITV1. The whole two-hour show was watched by an average audience of 15.5 million (53% share).
American Idol: Tuesday through Thursdays, Fox, 8 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday evenings on ITV1. Its U.S. version will air on the "Idol" network, Fox.
NUMBER OF SEASONS
American Idol: Nine
American Idol: Simon Cowell confirmed his departure from "Idol" after the ninth season, walking away from a purported $36 million annual salary. His departure leaves Paula Abdul stand-in Ellen DeGeneres to be the presumed head judge after he leaves. (Although the talk show host recently told Entertainment Weekly, "If Simon goes, I go!") A recent poll suggested fans would most like to see Piers Morgan of "America's Got Talent" take a seat at the judges table, in addition to Sean "Diddy" Combs, Quincy Jones, Donny Osmond, Jay Leno or Jon Bon Jovi. TMZ.com reported last week that Elton John is a serious candidate for Simon's seat.
In light of the success of the sixth series, Simon Cowell demanded an additional $5 million to be spent on the 2010 series before he signs a new contract. He has threatened to pull the plug and take the show to another U.K. broadcaster if ITV turns down his request. Feisty former Spice Girl Mel B is rumored to be replacing the pregnant Dannii as a judge for fall 2010. In the most recent series, Mr. Cowell moved Dannii to sit further away from him and Cheryl because he said the women judges were "too boring."