Turns out, the reality TV judge we most love to hate and his singing competition franchise will be back on our fall TV schedule — just not on Fox. AXS TV said this morning it had signed a deal with FremantleMedia International and Syco Entertainment to air the flagship UK version The X Factor starring Simon Cowell in this country for the first time. Season 11 of the show will debut on AXS TV on Sunday, August 31, and the network will air all 34 episodes of the series, as well as special boot camp installments and live broadcasts, on Sundays and Mondays — 24 hours after their respective UK broadcasts. The X Factor UK is co-produced by Cowell’s Syco and Thames TV (part of FremantleMedia UK).
Season 11 features Cowell making his return to the show’s UK panel for the first time in three years. Last February — a couple months after the U.S. X Factor wrapped its most recent run on Fox, and on the heels of ITV’s announcement The X Factor creator would return to the UK edition as a judge this year — Fox announced it would not renew the U.S. version. “I’ve had a fantastic time over the last 12 years, both on The X Factor and American Idol,” Cowell said at that time, adding, “apart from being lucky enough to find some amazing talent on the shows, I have always had an incredible welcome from the American public (most of the time!). Last year, for a number of reasons, I had to make a decision to return to the UK version of The X Factor in 2014. So for now, I’m back to the UK and I want to thank Fox for being an incredible partner and I also want to thank everybody who has supported my shows. America, I’ll see you soon!”
Here’s the network’s promo:
The cancellation decision came after a dismal third cycle for X Factor on Fox, which tumbled double-digits from Season 2. At the time of the announcement Fox chairman Kevin Reilly praised Cowell and credited his return to UK version for the axing. “To all of us at Fox, Simon is more than one of the most prolific TV personalities of our time — he’s part of our family,” said Reilly, who is no longer part of the Fox family. “Unfortunately, there is no X Factor USA without Simon Cowell, but we understand and support his decision to focus on the international formats and on the next phase of his personal life,” Reilly added back then.
In addition to Cowell, this iteration of the show’s UK version features former Spice Girl Mel B (who also judges Cowell’s NBC series America’s Got Talent), UK pop singer Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, and music manager Louis Walsh. Dermot O’Leary is hosting. “The X Factor UK is a perfect addition to the AXS TV lineup, as we continue to showcase the best music programming on television,” AXS TV founder Mark Cuban said in today’s announcement. “The level of talent that the series has produced is unprecedented, and to have Simon Cowell back as a judge – I’m confident that our audience will embrace these new stars wholeheartedly. I’m proud that AXS TV has the opportunity to be at the forefront of this popular music franchise to showcase talented vocalists.”
As for the new season of the UK iteration, British tabs have been keeping viewers up to date on the female judges giving lap dances to Cowell, threatening to slap Cowell for cracks he’s made, etc., during auditions. The UK show is maybe best known as the program on which Cowell discovered the five One Direction members in 2010.