Back in fall 2011, the TV world was abuzz over a new reality competition show from Simon Cowell, former judge and executive producer of FOX's existing 800-pound gorilla 'American Idol.' Never one to mince words, Cowell made lots of promises for 'The X-Factor's future, boasting that it might eventually surpass its big brother. Sadly, he was way off the mark.
Season 1 of 'X-Factor' did quite well by normal standards, but never came close to touching 'Idol' in any way. Simon's answer was to fire host Steve Jones, and replace every judge other than himself and industry mogul L.A. Reid. The audience responded to this "remedy" by tuning out in droves. 'X-Factor's season audience average dropped from 12.5 million to 8.7 million.
Obviously, something major needed to be done. A change needed to be made. So before 'X-Factor's third season, Cowell decided to shake things up...by firing (one of) the hosts and replacing every judge other than himself and Demi Lovato. Well, okay then. Unsurprisingly, this solved nothing, with Season 3's average audience falling to an anemic 6.4 million viewers.
Which brings us to tonight's announcement by FOX that 'The X-Factor' won't be returning for a fourth year. Despite Simon Cowell's insistence over the last few months that 'X-Factor' would return, it always seemed like he was trying to convince himself more than anything.
In the end, even Simon saw the writing on the wall, announcing earlier today that he would be returning as a judge to the original U.K. version of 'The X-Factor.' While he will remain a producer on NBC's 'America's Got Talent,' this fall will mark the first U.S. TV season without the presence of Simon Cowell since way back in 2002. Whatever you might think of the man himself, this truly does mark the end of an era when it comes to American reality TV.