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Simon Cowell not interested in staying on 'American Idol' if not No. 1


By Christopher Rocchio, 04/22/2009 

Simon Cowell says he is "absolutely not" interested in staying in his American Idol judging role if the show falls from its perennial top spot in the television ratings rankings.

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"Being No. 1 is verging on an obsession with me. I don't like being No. 2," Cowell told The Hollywood Reporter in an interview released Tuesday. "I don't mind when you start at No. 10 -- people don't always go on as No. 1 -- and you've got somewhere to go. But if you're at the point you've reached it, of course you want to stay there."

While Idol's ratings have followed the pattern of the rest of the television industry and declined in recent seasons, the show still ranks as America's most-watched program by a wide margin. 

This season's Tuesday and Wednesday broadcasts have each averaged more than 26 million viewers per episode -- averages that currently rank more than six million viewers ahead of Dancing with the Stars' Monday performance broadcasts, the only other show to average more than 20 million viewers during the 2008-2009 television season.

Cowell is confident that Idol's slight ratings decline doesn't mean that the show will eventually slip from the top spot.

"I don't accept the argument of fragmentation or declining numbers," he told The Reporter.  "The Super Bowl goes up every year."

Idol's ability to retain its No. 1 ratings ranking and Cowell's self-proclaimed "obsession" with it could be a big deal in the next year, as the November 2005 five-season agreement he signed with Fox expires after the show's ninth season next spring.

In addition, Cowell has openly speculated in recent weeks that he might leave Idol once his current contract expires due to his other obligations to his The X Factor and Britain's Got Talent U.K. reality competitions.

However even if he inks a new agreement to remain on Idol's judging panel, Cowell doesn't seem to be interested in signing another five-season deal.

"The idea that for the next five years, I'd be doing exactly what I've been doing for the past five years -- the thought is just too depressing," Cowell told The Reporter. "I'd go nuts, bored out of my mind. You have to evolve, you have to change. I like the challenge of launching something new."

Also included in the 2005 extension Cowell inked with Fox was an agreement that he wouldn't sell the rights to an American adaptation of The X Factor, which effectively replaced Pop Idol -- the British series American Idol was based on -- when Cowell left Pop Idol to start The X Factor after Pop Idol's second season.

However Cowell recently told The New York Times that once his Fox contract expires he would be free to sell the rights to The X Factor stateside and even appear on-screen for the series -- which is something he currently can't do with any of his other American projects, including NBC's America's Got Talent, due to his Fox contract.

He reiterated that he thinks America is ready for another music competition series that could rival Idol, however he teased "maybe it'll be The X Factor" or "maybe it'll be something new."

"We have to bring in another music show," he told The Reporter.  "In the U.K., there is more than one type of music show running throughout the year. And I think the same thing could happen here, because for the fall, nothing really happens. It's something we've been thinking about... I would definitely do it now."

(Photo credit Fox)


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