The X Factor

The X Factor (Courtesy Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

The X Factor is an American reality television singing competition created by Simon Cowell and produced by FremantleMedia North America and SYCOtv, a partnership between Cowell and Sony Music Entertainment, on Fox. Based on the original UK show, the concept of the series is to find new singing talent (solo or groups) contested by aspiring singers, aged 12 and over, drawn from public auditions. The winner is determined by the viewers through telephone, Internet, and SMS text voting and receives a $5 million recording contract with Cowell's record label Syco Music. There have been two winners of the show to date: Melanie Amaro and Tate Stevens.

The show began airing on September 21, 2011, and has since aired annually from September through to December as an addition to the The X Factor franchise. The series employs a panel of judges who critique the contestants' performances. Each judge is assigned one of four categories; the criteria for each has varied between seasons. Throughout the live shows, the judges act as mentors to their category, helping to decide song choices, styling, and staging, while judging contestants from the other categories. They also compete to ensure that their act wins the competition, thus making them the winning judge.

The original judging panel was Cowell, Cheryl Cole, Paula Abdul and L.A. Reid, with Nicole Scherzinger and Steve Jones as co-hosts. Cole was dismissed after two sets of auditions and replaced by Scherzinger, leaving Jones as solo host. For the second season, Demi Lovato and Britney Spears replaced Abdul and Scherzinger, while Khlo Kardashian and Mario Lopez replaced Jones. On October 22, 2012, Fox confirmed that the show would return for a third season. Cowell is the only confirmed judge; Reid and Spears have announced their exits, while Lovato has yet to be confirmed on returning. It is unclear if Kardashian and Lopez will return, as well.


Although American Idol went on to become an enormous success and the number 1 show in the United States for eight consecutive seasons, the original UK version, Pop Idol did not fare so well. Cowell, who was a judge on Pop Idol, wished to launch a show which he owned the rights to. Pop Idols first series was massively successful, and while the second series was also successful, the viewers figure for its finale dropped. Some"?including Pop Idol judge Pete Waterman"? considered Michelle McManus an unworthy winner. In 2004, Pop Idol was axed and ITV announced a new show created by former Pop Idol judge Simon Cowell, with no involvement from Idol creator Simon Fuller"?The X Factor.

Then, in April 2009, reports surfaced that Cowell was attempting to launch The X Factor in the U.S. after his American Idol contract ended after season nine. Under his then contract, Cowell was forbidden from launching The X Factor as a rival show to Idol. In September, Fox, the broadcaster of American Idol, signed the deal to launch the U.S. version of The X Factor.

On January 11, 2010, News Corporation (via Fox News in the U.S. and The Times in the UK) reported that Cowell would leave American Idol after season nine in order to bring The X Factor to the U.S. in September 2011. Cowell told the Television Critics Association that he was leaving American Idol so that he can judge and act as executive producer of the U.S. version of The X Factor. Additionally, Cowell signed a long-term business deal with Sony Music, who already support Syco Music artists in the UK, and will now be involved with the artists on the U.S. version of the show as well as becoming involved in its production.

In November 2010, Fox began airing short commercials for the program, which displayed the text "Coming to America Fall 2011". The New York Times described the commercials as the network trying to set up The X Factor as a television event. In February 2011, during Super Bowl XLV, Fox unveiled the official logo for the show in a promo starring Cowell. A second promo was shown during that night, featuring Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, The Black Eyed Peas, Usher, Lady Gaga, the Pussycat Dolls and Madonna. This promo started speculation on who would be joining Cowell on the X Factor judging panel.

The X Factor premiered in the U.S. and Canada on September 21, 2011.



The show is primarily concerned with identifying singing talent, though appearance, personality, stage presence and dance routines are also an important element of many performances. Each judge is assigned one of four categories. For season one, these categories were: "Girls" (aged 12"29 females), "Boys" (aged 12"29 males), "Over 30s" (solo acts aged 30 and over), and "Groups" (including duos). Season two's categories and age group boundaries were changed, with the "Boys" and "Girls" categories becoming "Teens" (solo acts aged 12"17) and "Young Adults" (solo acts aged 18"24), and the "Over 30s" became "Over 25s" (solo acts aged 25 and over). For both seasons, some groups were formed from soloists and other groups rejected after the audition process. Through the live shows, the judges act as mentors to their category, helping to decide song choices, styling and staging, while judging contestants from other categories.


There are five stages to the competition:

  • Stage 1: Producers' auditions (these auditions decide who will sing in front of the judges)
  • Stage 2: Judges' auditions
  • Stage 3: Bootcamp
  • Stage 4: Judges' houses
  • Stage 5: Live shows (finals)


The show is open to solo artists and vocal groups aged 12 and above, with no upper age limit. The applicants were given the opportunity to apply by uploading a video audition to the Internet. The show's producers will also be sending a "mobile audition van" to various locations throughout the U.S. so they can audition singers who cannot make the arena auditions. A round of first auditions is held in front of producers months before the show is aired, either by application and appointment, or at "open" auditions that anyone can attend. These auditions, held at various venues around the U.S., attract very large crowds. The auditions themselves are not televised, but shots of crowds waving and "judges' cars" arriving are filmed and later spliced in with the televised auditions shot later in the year. After waiting at the venue for hours and filming more inserts of screaming and waving, candidates are given a brief audition by someone from the production team. Should they pass that audition (either for reasons of talent or for the potential of making entertaining television), they are given a "golden ticket" that allows them to sing to a more senior production member. Only candidates who successfully pass that second and third auditions are invited to perform to the judges. The televised version misrepresents the process by implying that the entire huge crowds all perform to the judges.

A selection of the auditions in front of the judges " usually the best, the worst and the most bizarre " are broadcast over the first few weeks of the show. The judges' auditions are held in front of a live audience and the acts sing over a backing track. A majority of the judges, in this case, at least three judges have to say "yes" then the act goes through to the next stage, otherwise they are sent home.

Bootcamp and judges' houses

The contestants selected at auditions are further refined through a series of performances at "bootcamp", and then at the "judges' houses", until a small number eventually progress to the live finals (seventeen in season 1, and sixteen from season 2). The houses the contestants visit may not actually belong to the judges, but are sometimes rented for the purpose. During these stages, the producers allocate each of the judges a category to mentor. At bootcamp the judges collaboratively choose either 32 acts (season 1; eight from each category) or 24 acts (season 2; six from each category) for the next round, and only then are told by the show's producers which category they are to mentor. The contestants did not know who their mentor was until they revealed themselves at the house.

The judges then disband for the "judges' houses" round, where they further reduce their acts on location at a residence (often collectively spanning the globe) with the help of a celebrity guest.

Live shows

The selected finalists (either 16 or 17 acts) move into shared accommodation at the Hollywood Hills to take part in the show. The mansion is also notably used for housing the finalists from American Idol.

The finals consist of a series of two live shows, the first featuring the contestants' performances and the second revealing the results of the public voting, culminating in one or more acts being eliminated. Celebrity guest performers also feature regularly. These live shows are filmed at CBS Television City in Los Angeles, California. The performances show were broadcast on Wednesday nights and the results show on Thursday nights. In season one, seventeen acts were put through to the live shows, and sixteen acts were put through in season two.

In addition to the live broadcast on Fox, Sony and SYCOtv created a completely integrated second-screen experience and a Pepsi sponsored live digital pre-show known as The X Factor Digital Experience. In addition to watching the program live on television, the audience was now able to participate on multiple platforms in real-time.

The show is primarily concerned with identifying a potential pop star or star group, and singing talent, appearance, personality, stage presence and dance routines are all important elements of the contestants' performances. In the initial live shows, each act performs once in the first show in front of a studio audience and the judges, usually singing over a pre-recorded backing track. Dancers are also commonly featured. Acts occasionally accompany themselves on guitar or piano. Each live show has had a different theme; each contestant's song is chosen according to the theme. After each act has performed, the judges comment on their performance. Heated disagreements, usually involving judges defending their contestants against criticism, are a regular feature of the show. Once all the acts have appeared, the phone lines open and the viewing public vote on which act they want to keep. Once the number of contestants has been reduced to five (season 1), or six (season 2), each act would perform twice in the performances show. This continues until only three acts remain. These acts go on to appear in the grand final which decides the overall winner by public vote.

nnounced, the results show occasionally begins with a group performance from the remaining contestants. However, the song is pre-recorded and the contestants mime, due to problems with the number of microphones. The two acts polling the fewest votes are revealed. Both these acts perform again in a "final showdown", and the judges vote on which of the two to send home. They were able to pick new songs to perform in the "final showdown". "Double elimination" took place in some of the results show, where the bottom three acts were revealed and the act with the fewest votes was automatically eliminated, and the two with the next fewest votes performed in the "final showdown" as normal.

Ties are possible as there are four judges voting on which of the two to send home. In the event of a tie the result goes to deadlock, and the act who came last in the public vote is sent home. The actual number of votes cast for each act is not revealed, nor even the order. However, a twist occurred in season two where the rankings of the acts based on the public vote for the week were revealed after the eliminations on the show. Once the number of contestants has been reduced to four, the act which polled the fewest votes is automatically eliminated from the competition (the judges do not have a vote; their only role is to comment on the performances).

Season Twist
One At the end of judges' houses, it was announced that Cowell would bring back one further act from his "Girls" category that he had eliminated at the judges' houses. He believed that he had made "a huge mistake" at judges' houses by not choosing the act for the live shows. The act was later revealed to be Melanie Amaro and therefore season one had a final 17 instead of a final 16. On the first live show, there was no public vote. Instead, each of the judges selected one of their own acts to eliminate. Cowell had to eliminate two acts, because he included Amaro as a fifth contestant in his category.
Two Similar to season one, there was no public vote on the first live show and each of the mentors selected one of their own acts to eliminate. However, prior to the elimination of each category, each mentor selected two finalists from their own category as the bottom two. The bottom two acts performed another song of their choice in the "final showdown" and their mentor was required to eliminate one of them based on the performance. At the start of the second live show, it was announced that all judges agreed to bring back one further act whom they felt shouldn't have been eliminated on the first live show by the mentor. The act was later revealed to be Diamond White.

After The X Factor

The winner of the competition is awarded a recording contract with Syco Music in association with Sony Music Entertainment, which would include cash payments totaling $5 million. A press release on behalf of the show on February 7, 2011 called the recording contract "the largest guaranteed prize in television history." Unlike the British version of the show, the costs of recording and marketing the winning artist will be paid for separately from the $5 million initial contract payment. The $5 million will be paid directly to the winner in five annual installments of $1 million. Cowell said in a conference call with reporters on February 7, 2011: "I think it should be a life-changing prize and just to be clear, this isn't a dressed-up $5 million, this is a guaranteed $5 million payable to the winner. The recording, marketing, and video costs are completely separate to that. It will be paid over five years at $1 million a year."

Cowell said in the same conference call that the specific music label within the Sony family with which the winner would actually sign would likely depend on which specialty label could provide the best support to the winner in light of the type of music that the winner chooses to perform.

Series overview

To date, two seasons have been broadcast, as summarised below.

{{colorbox}} Contestant in (or mentor of) "Boys" category
{{colorbox}} Contestant in (or mentor of) "Girls" category
{{colorbox}} Contestant in (or mentor of) "Teens" category
{{colorbox}} Contestant in (or mentor of) "Young Adults" category
{{colorbox}} Contestant in (or mentor of) "Over 25s" or "Over 30s" category
{{colorbox}} Contestant in (or mentor of) "Groups" category

Season Start Finish Winner Third place Winning mentor Main host(s) Sponsors Main judges Guest judges
One September 21, 2011 December 22, 2011 Melanie Amaro Josh Krajcik Chris Rene Simon Cowell Steve Jones Pepsi
Simon Cowell
Paula Abdul
Nicole Scherzinger
L.A. Reid
Cheryl Cole (Los Angeles & Chicago auditions;
was originally planned to be permanent judge)
Two September 12, 2012 December 20, 2012 Tate Stevens Carly Rose Sonenclar Fifth Harmony L.A. Reid Khlo Kardashian
Mario Lopez
Best Buy
Simon Cowell
Demi Lovato
Britney Spears
L.A. Reid
Louis Walsh (Kansas City auditions)
Three September 2013 December 2013 N/A N/A TBA N/A Simon Cowell N/A

Judges and hosts

At the time of announcing the U.S. version of The X Factor, Cowell was the only confirmed judge for the show. He later said that he was taking the choices of who to join him on the show very seriously, saying, "It's pointless hiring judges who don't know anything about the music business. I'll probably go and find someone who did what I did for a living. I was an A&R guy for 20 years." Eventually, Grammy Award-winning record executive, songwriter, and record producer L.A. Reid, former UK X Factor judge Cheryl Cole, and Cowell's former American Idol colleague Paula Abdul were confirmed to join Cowell in the judging panel. Cowell initially indicated that The X Factor may have two hosts. Numerous people were speculated to host the series, including High School Musical star Corbin Bleu, model Marisa Miller, and Dermot O'Leary, host of the UK version. On May 8, 2011, Nicole Scherzinger and Welsh presenter Steve Jones were announced as co-hosts of the show.

After the first season, Fox said that The X Factor may undergo some changes, which were later confirmed to be the exits of Abdul, Jones, and Scherzinger. According to her autobiography, Cole was offered her seat back on the panel, but refused. There was much speculation that Britney Spears would be joining the series, with additional reports that the series looked to hire Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, or Demi Lovato to draw in a younger audience. Lovato and Spears were confirmed to join Cowell and Reid for the second season on May 14, 2012. In December 2012, Reid announced that he would not return for the third season, instead deciding to focus on his record label. When asked who he thinks should replace him, he nominated Jon Bon Jovi. On January 11, 2013, Spears confirmed her exit, stating that the wanted to focus on her music career and the production of her eight studio album. Lovato has yet to be confirmed on returning, leaving Cowell as the only confirmed judge for the season.

Originally, the first season was to be hosted by Steve Jones and Nicole Scherzinger. However, Scherzinger later became a judge after Cole's departure, leaving Jones as the sole host. After his dismissal at the end of the season, Cowell looked to hire two hosts to fill his position, one male and one female. Fox later announced Kevin McHale as a potential choice. On October 16, 2012, Khlo Kardashian and Mario Lopez were confirmed as the co-hosts of the second season. Both have yet to be confirmed on returning for the third season.

The Pespi Pre-Show Live, which is a podcast that comes on two hours before every episode in the Live rounds of the show. This show is hosted by Jesse Giddings, Cheetah Girl member Adrienne Bailon and Jim Cantiello.

Judges' categories and their finalists

In each season, each judge is allocated a category to mentor and chooses small number of acts (four or five, depending on the season) to progress to the live finals. This table shows, for each season, which category each judge was allocated and which acts he or she put through to the live finals.


{{colorbox}} " Winning judge/category. Winners are in bold, eliminated contestants in small font.
Season Simon Cowell Paula Abdul Nicole Scherzinger L.A. Reid
One Girls
Melanie Amaro
Rachel Crow
Simone Battle
Tiah Tolliver
Lakoda Rayne
The Stereo Hogzz
The Brewer Boys
Over 30s
Josh Krajcik
LeRoy Bell
Stacy Francis
Dexter Haygood
Chris Rene
Marcus Canty
Phillip Lomax
Season Simon Cowell Demi Lovato Britney Spears L.A. Reid
Two Groups
Fifth Harmony
Sister C
Young Adults
CeCe Frey
Paige Thomas
Jennel Garcia
Willie Jones
Carly Rose Sonenclar
Diamond White
Beatrice Miller
Arin Ray
Over 25s
Tate Stevens
Vino Alan
Jason Brock
David Correy
Season Simon Cowell Demi Lovato TBA TBA


Television ratings

Seasonal rankings (based on average total viewers per episode) of The X Factor on Fox.

Each U.S. network television season starts in late September and ends in late May, which coincides with the completion of May sweeps.
Season Premiered Ended TV season Timeslot Season
Date Viewers
(in millions)
Date Viewers
(in millions)
September 21, 2011 12.49 Final performances:
December 21, 2011
12.67 2011 Wednesday 8:00 pm
(performance show)
Season finale:
December 22, 2011
12.57 Thursday 8:00 pm
(results show)
September 12, 2012 8.79 Final performances:
December 19, 2012
8.35 2012 Wednesday 8:00 pm
(performance show)
Season finale:
December 20, 2012
9.65 Thursday 8:00 pm
(results show)

Awards and nominations

At the 2012 Teen Choice Awards, The X Factor beat rival shows American Idol and The Voice to take the award for Reality Competition Show. The X Factor also won the award for Breakout Show, and Simon Cowell won the Male Personality award.

Year Association Category Nominee Result
2012 Teen Choice Awards Reality Competition Show The X Factor
Breakout Show The X Factor
Male Personality Simon Cowell
Female Reality Star Melanie Amaro
2013 People's Choice Awards Favorite TV Competition Show The X Factor
Favorite Celebrity Judge Demi Lovato
Britney Spears

Controversy and criticism

In week seven of season one, Scherzinger voted to eliminate contestant Rachel Crow from the show over Marcus Canty; this took the results to deadlock. Following this, Crow was eliminated and Scherzinger was booed off the stage and her future on the show was put in jeopardy. She subsequently received death threats from some viewers. Scherzinger was let go at the end of the season and later relocated London to replace Kelly Rowland as a judge on the original UK version of the show.

During the airing of the judges' houses episode in season two on October 17, 2012, the show was stopped abruptly in the middle of Lovato's selection for the top 16 and cut immediately to a game of the National League Championship Series. The reason being that the game was halted and rescheduled later in the day due to a rain delay, to be played concurrently with The X Factor. Between the two, Fox decided to air the game instead of the rest of the episode. Many viewers took to the internet and called Fox to complain about the interruption. Cowell even took to his Twitter to comment that: "It's what's known as a total f up." The show instead aired the following week in its entirety.

Music releases by The X Factor contestants

Main article: The X Factor (U.S.) discography

International broadcast

Following the announcement of the show coming to America, several other broadcasters around the world expressed interest in acquiring the rights to show the American version of the show in their country. The below mentioned countries may have their own version of The X Factor, dubbed equally or under another name.

  • Brazil: Premiered on October 11, 2011 on Canal Sony
  • Bulgaria: Season one premieres Saturday November 3, 2012 on FOX
  • Canada: Simultaneously broadcast with the Fox broadcast on CTV (on Wednesday) or CTV Two (on Thursday).
  • Cyprus: Premiered on September 30, 2011 on RIK 1
  • Czech Republic: Season two premiereed on September 15, 2012 on Prima love
  • Denmark: Premiered on October 1, 2011 on DR HD
  • Estonia: Premiered on October 9, 2011, and is broadcast on every Sunday on TV3
  • Finland: Premiered on October 4, 2011, and is broadcast on Tuesday and Friday on Sub
  • Greece: Premiered on October 1, 2011 on ANT1
  • Hungary: Premiered on October 1, 2011, and is broadcast on every Sunday and Saturday on Cool TV
  • India: Premiered on September 22, 2011 and is simulcast on Big CBS Prime, Love and Spark.
  • Indonesia: A group of local TV networks is airing the shows the same week it is aired in America; in Jakarta it airs on B Channel on Thursday and Friday, with repeats on Saturday and Sunday
  • Ireland: Premiered on September 13, 2011 on TV3 and is broadcast every Friday. Also airs on ITV2 (see UK section).
  • Israel: Premiered on September 14, 2011, and is broadcast on Friday and Saturday on Hot 3
  • Iran: Premiered on Desember 20, 2012, and is broadcast on Thursday and Friday on GEM TV
  • Japan: Premiered on October 1, 2011 on FOX bs238
  • Latin America: Premiered on October 12, 2011 on Sony Channel. Season 2 premiered on October 26, 2012 also on Sony Channel.
  • Latvia: Premiered on December 1, 2012 on LNT
  • Malaysia: Premiered on September 23, 2011 on 8TV (Malaysia)
  • Middle East: Premiered on September 24, 2011 on OSN First
  • New Zealand: Broadcast 6 hours and 30 minutes after it is aired in the U.S, on TV3
  • Philippines: Airs on Studio 23; premiered on September 22, 2011 and the final performance and results night airs on ABS-CBN.
  • Poland: Premiered on October 11, 2011 on Fox Life and is broadcast every Tuesday
  • Russia: Premiered on January 2, 2012, and is broadcast on Monday to Friday on MTV
  • Singapore: Broadcast direct off-satellite at the same time as the U.S. on MediaCorp Channel 5
  • Serbia: Premiered on November 2, 2012 on FOX Serbia.
  • Slovakia: Premiered on September 23, 2011 on JOJ Plus; season two premiered September 14, 2012 on TV JOJ (broadcast in Slovakia 24 hours after it is aired in the U.S.)
  • South Africa: Broadcast on Mnet
  • Trinidad and Tobago: Airs on CNC3
  • United Kingdom and Ireland: As part of Cowell's contract, it was agreed that ITV2, the sister channel to the ITV1 network (which airs the original British version of The X Factor), would have rights to air the U.S. version. The first season was broadcast in the UK 18 hours after the U.S. airing " it premiered on September 22, 2011 in the UK and airs on Thursday and Friday nights. The second season premiered on September 27, 2012, meaning there was a initially a delay of two weeks after the U.S. airing. From the live shows onwards, this gap has again reduced to 48 hours.

Media sponsorship

On January 7, 2011, Fox, SYCOtv and FremantleMedia North America announced that Pepsi will be the official sponsor of The X Factor. The sponsorship includes an extensive multi-platform on and off-air marketing partnership. On June 9, Chevrolet was announced as the second official sponsor of the show. Chevrolet's sponsorship will also include an extensive multi-platform on and off-air marketing partnership. Sony was confirmed as the third official sponsor on July 26. Sony's sponsorship of The X Factor will also include an extensive multi-platform on and off-air marketing partnership. Verizon also sponsors the show; they are the official wireless sponsor.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.It uses material from the Wikipedia article "The X Factor (U.S.)". Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions this article may contain.

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