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Simon Cowell's 'X Factor' was a little flat in the ratings

September 22, 2011 | 10:34 am

Simon cowell kissed by paula abdul 
Not everything Simon Cowell touches turns to gold.

Ratings for the British impresario's new singing competition, Fox's "The X Factor," delivered an underwhelming 12.2 million total viewers in its two-hour Wednesday premiere, according to early figures from Nielsen.

Considering the level of hype surrounding the show — and the involvement of Cowell, who left "American Idol" to start "Factor" in America — the numbers were low. Cowell had said he wanted the show to beat "Idol," but so far it looks to be well under half of "Idol's" peak numbers.

And, in what has to be concerning to Fox executives, "X Factor" built very little during its two hours and actually dipped slightly at 9 p.m., when the one-hour season premiere of ABC's hit sitcom "Modern Family" delivered 14.3 million viewers. 

Fox executives, however, found a silver lining in the numbers. In the ad-friendly demographic of adults ages 18 to 49, Fox grabbed a 4.2 ratings/12 share, narrowly beating ABC for the night. 

"I'm relieved," Mike Darnell, Fox's reality chief, said in an interview. "For us, the expectations have been ridiculous. All we were hoping to do was be competitive in the fall.

"Fall is tough for us," he added. "This is huge — this is the first Wednesday we've won in the demo in 18 years." Darnell predicted that if "X Factor" could maintain the ratings it did in its premiere, Fox would win the season "hands down."

And let's not forget the promotional talents of Cowell, who has a proven knack for salesmanship. Here's betting this guy won't let "X Factor" sink without a fight.

ALSO ON SHOW TRACKER:

Did "X Factor" live up to the hype?

Simon Cowell is back with "X Factor"

Zooey Deschanel delivers big ratings in "New Girl"

—Scott Collins (twitter.com/scottcollinsLAT)

Photo: Simon Cowell and Paul Abdul in "The X Factor." Credit: Ray Mickshaw/Fox.

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