Cowell Quits Idol To Launch US X Factor
Simon Cowell is quitting American Idol to launch a US version of The X Factor.
The pop mogul has announced he will walk away from Idol when his contract expires at the end of the show`s ninth season in May.
"What we have agreed is that The X Factor will launch in America in 2011 with me judging the show and executive producing," Cowell said.
"Because of that, this will be my last season on American Idol this year. I am confident it will continue to be the number one show."
Like Idol, the most-watched programme in the country for the last six years, the US version of The X Factor will be screened on Fox.
The network is hoping The X Factor will repeat its phenomenal global success. It has an audience of 500 million in 17 countries.
Last year in the UK, the show reached an audience share of 60%.
The deal marks the latest chapter in Cowell`s extraordinary success story.
As well as Idol and The X Factor, his company owns the Got Talent format which launched stars like Susan Boyle.
His record label claims Cowell has worked with artists selling more than 180 million albums and delivering more than 150 number one records.
In 2009, Cowell topped Hollywood Reporter`s list of the top 50 most powerful people in reality TV and was one of Entertainment Weekly`s top entertainers of the year.
The biggest challenge for Fox is finding a replacement for Cowell, whose acerbic style on Idol is regarded as one of the show`s biggest attractions.
Audiences have slipped in the last three years but the network expressed confidence in Idol`s future potential to attract huge ratings.
The show has created stars like Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood and is shown live or tape delayed in more than 100 nations.
Kevin Reilly, president of Fox entertainment, said: "We are very buoyant about where the show is going to be this season.
"Every year Idol has increased its lead over the number two show."