Tuesday 15 October 2019

Cowell plotting world domination with Eurovision-style global talent show

Simon and Cheryl on X Factor
Simon and Cheryl on X Factor

Adam Sherwin

It promises to be the World Cup of novelty dog acts: Simon Cowell is threatening to expand his hit “Got Talent” format into a global television entertainment challenge.

Not content with selling The X Factor to 147 territories, Cowell is now plotting a “pan-regional entertainment format”, which would incorporate the spirit of the Eurovision Song Contest.

“That is something we have been thinking of for more than three years - a long, long time - and I think it is going to get easier, not harder,” Cowell said at the Mipcom television conference in Cannes.

Countries would select their best act – be it singers, dance troupes or talented pets – which would be whittled down through a public vote to a grand final.

It could not be a worldwide X Factor, Cowell said, because a one-off worldwide “Idol” sing-off had flopped. “There were something like 16 judges on that show, so the judging took about half an hour on each act, and every one of them had been put on the show to be the equivalent of me. It was ‘who could be ruder’ each time. It was just a disaster.”

“The ‘Got Talent’ [format] would be the most obvious one to start with. We’ll definitely be in that space sooner rather than later.”

Cowell also disclosed that his Syco Entertainment company was developing a new series which would run exclusively on a web streaming service, like Netflix. He said: “We are going to announce something soon that is going to be a big show, not on a cable network, not on a major network, and I think it is a bit of a game changer because the market has suddenly just got bigger.”

“I think ‘House of Cards’ [Kevin Spacey’s Netflix drama] was part of the reason, because people now have confidence that you don’t have to be a broadcaster to make money on these types of things. Inevitably those kinds of people will want entertainment shows as well,” he said.

The streaming show could be a teen-focused scripted drama, with Cowell naming High School Musical as a possible inspiration for a new series.

Cowell’s attempts to expand from talent shows have previously floundered. ITV binned his Food Glorious Food cookery show like a melted Baked Alaska after one flop series.

A plan to cash in on the popularity of dance music by launching a worldwide televised DJ search was abandoned, with reports suggesting that the proposed business partner, Hollywood star Will Smith, and Syco had disagreed over which should get the most prominent production credit.

Even Cowell was forced to admit failure after Fox cancelled the US version of The X Factor, prompting his return to the UK version this year.

The X Factor continues to perform strongly for ITV, attracting around nine million viewers on Saturday nights this series despite stiff competition from Strictly Come Dancing.


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