Deadline contributor Tim Adler files this international report:
Simon Cowell will return as one of the judges on next year’s Britain’s Got Talent, ITV boss Adam Crozier has confirmed. The X Factor impresario will resume his seat on the talent show following the recent exits of judges David Hasselhof and Michael McIntyre. Speaking to press this afternoon in London, the ITV boss also hinted that ITV Studios may be in the market to buy an American production company, pointing out that the U.S. is the second-liveliest market for independent TV producers apart from the UK. For now though, Crozier is concentrating on wiping out the £612 million worth of debt he inherited by year’s end. “When you inherit something that isn’t working, the worst thing you can do is start bolting things on,” he said.
Regarding Cowell, Crozier ruled out flying him in next fall to perform a rescue mission on The X Factor, which is losing out to BBC rival Strictly Come Dancing (aka Dancing With The Stars in the U.S.) almost every Saturday night. Crozier shrugged off mutterings that British audiences are finally tiring of The X Factor, which is in its eighth season. “X Factor is still the most-watched television show when you combine the Saturday and Sunday viewing figures,” he said.
The ex-UK postal service CEO was self-deprecating about the size of the task facing him in turning ITV around. Group turnover rose 4% to £1.5 billion over the first nine months of the year. “If this was a school report, I would summarize it as, ‘good solid progress but plenty more needs to be done,’ ” he said. “We’re about one third of the way to where we need to get to.”
He was keen to talk up the success of ITV’s in-house production division, ITV Studios (which is seen by observers as a millstone around ITV’s neck because the broadcaster has to keep commissioning ITV Studios rather than throw open the commissioning process completely for independent producers). So far, ITV Studios has increased its share of all shows commissioned this year to 55% compared to 47% in 2010. Half of those shows have been sold overseas including the Titanic miniseries airing on ABC that’s gone to 57 territories. “Titanic is a very good example of how we work now,” Crozier said. “The program was in profit before we started making it.”