Simon Cowell and his team are plotting the biggest changes to “X Factor” on ITV in the show’s history in attempt to boost ratings and secure a new deal for the talent competition on British television.
Amid reports of wholesale format changes, there were rumors that the show was effectively being shelved, a move that would rock the entertainment TV landscape in the U.K. But a source close to the show poured cold water on that theory. “The ‘X Factor’ has not been axed and will be back on ITV later this year,” the insider said.
Cowell and the producers are looking to radically revamp the show, however, and considering ditching the public auditions and introducing celebrity contestants. There is also talk of a Champions segment that would feature winners from different international editions.
The format is a big seller for Fremantle, which handles distribution. Its production company, Thames, makes the show with Cowell’s SyCo. Any changes to the British version of the show would not necessarily be introduced elsewhere in the world.
ITV and SyCorenewed their deal for “X Factor” and stablemate “Britain’s Got Talent” for three years in 2016. The 15th series of the show aired on ITV last year.
ITV programming boss Kevin Lygo appeared to give the show his backing at an industry breakfast last week. “It’s still a really big show for us – the audition shows do really well and then it does tail off a bit during the live shows,” he said. “It’s not as if the producers and Simon aren’t trying everything to keep it refreshed.”
He added that “almost anything you put in there to replace it wouldn’t do as well to start with.”
The U.K. series has featured the likes of One Direction and Little Mix, who have gone on to become hugely successful.
Simon Cowell during Record of the Year 2001 at Hard Rock Cafe in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Fred Duval/FilmMagic)
The Brit Awards 2002', Earls Court, London, Britain - 20 Feb 2002, Zoe Ball With Simon Cowell (Photo by Brian Rasic/Getty Images)
(Left to right) FOX's American Idol judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson pse peaceably at the FOX 2002 SummerTCA Tour at the Huntington Ritz Carlton Hotel in Pasadena, CA on Monday, July 22, 2002. Photo credit: Kevin Winter/ImageDirect
Simon Cowell with a Wilson's leather bag during The 2002 Teen Choice Awards - Backstage Creations Talent Retreat - Day 1 at Universal Amphitheatre in Universal City, California, United States. (Photo by L. Cohen/WireImage)
Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson at 'The Teen Choice Awards 2002' at the Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles, Ca. Sunday, August 4, 2002. Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images/FOX.
Simon Cowell during Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell, and Christina Christian of American Idol Leave MTV's TRL - August 18, 2002 at Times Square in New York City, New York, United States. ***Exclusive*** (Photo by James Devaney/WireImage)
Randy Jackson & Simon Cowell during 'American Idol' Season 1 Finale - Results Show - Press Room at Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)
Paris Hilton and Simon Cowell during Scary Movie 3 Los Angeles Premiere - After Party at The W Hotel in Westwood, California, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
Simon Cowell during Simon Cowell Signs Copies of His New Book, 'I Don't Mean To Be Rude But...' at Barnes And Noble, Rockefeller Center in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Debra L Rothenberg/FilmMagic)
BURBANK, CA - JANUARY 19: 'American Idols' judge Simon Cowell (left) appears on 'The Tonight Show with Jay Leno' on January 19, 2004 at the NBC Studios, in Burbank, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Matt Rogers and Simon Cowell during 'American Idol' Season 3 - Top 12 Finalists Party - Inside at Pearl in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
Simon Cowell during 102.7 KIIS-FM's 'Wango Tango On-Air' Concert 2004 at Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, United States. (Photo by J. Shearer/WireImage)
Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul (Photo by Ray Mickshaw/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD - APRIL 20: Television host Ryan Seacrest poses with American Idol judges (L-R) Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson, after receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on April 20, 2005 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Simon Fuller, creator of 'American Idol', Carrie Underwood, winner of 'American Idol' Season 4 and Simon Cowell (Photo by Ray Mickshaw/WireImage)
'American Idol' judge Simon Cowell and Terri Seymour (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul (Photo by Denise Truscello/WireImage)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 3313 -- Pictured: (l-r) 'American Idol' judge Randy Jackson, host Ryan Seacrest and judge Simon Cowell during an interview on February 19, 2007 (Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Air Date 1/21/08 -- Episode 3480 -- Pictured: Television personality Simon Cowell during an interview on January 21, 2008 (Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 22: Executive producer and TV personality Simon Cowell displays his Founders award in the press room during the 38th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton and Towers on November 22, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by George Napolitano/FilmMagic)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 09: (L-R) Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson, Harry Styles, Zane Malik and Niall Horan of 'One Direction' together with Simon Cowell (c) attend a photocall during the X Factor press conference at the Connaught Hotel on December 9, 2010 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 4000 -- Pictured: (l-r) TV personality Simon Cowell during an interview with host Jay Leno on March 2, 2011 (Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Simon Cowell attends 'The X Factor' auditions at Bank United Center on June 14, 2011 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Vallery Jean/FilmMagic)
JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE - 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' airs every weeknight, (12:00 - 1:06 a.m., ET), following 'Nightline,' featuring a diverse lineup of guests that include celebrities, athletes, musical acts, comedians and human interest subjects, along with comedy bits and a house band. The guests for TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 20 included Simon Cowell ('The X Factor') Ron Artest and Peta Murgatroyd ('Dancing with the Stars' cast off) and musical guest Gavin DeGraw. (Photo by Carin Baer/Disney XD via Getty Images)SIMON COWELL, JIMMY KIMMEL
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 19: Simon Cowell and Melanie Amaro attends 'The X Factor' press conference at CBS Television City on December 19, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 11: Alesha Dixon, Simon Cowell and Amanda Holden attend the press launch for the new series of 'Britain's Got Talent' at ICA on April 11, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 04: Simon Cowell arrives at 'The X Factor' finalists party held at SLS Hotel on November 4, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)
MIAMI BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 24: Simon Cowell and Eric Cowell are sighted on the beach in Miami Florida. on February 24, 2014 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by Dave Lee/GC Images)
MIAMI, FL - MARCH 03: Simon Cowell is seen as he gets on a Vespa for a scooter ride on March 03, 2014 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Radcliffe/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 26: Lauren Silverman and Simon Cowell attend the press night of 'I Can't Sing! The X Factor Musical' at London Palladium on March 26, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 24: Simon Cowell with his Outstanding Contribution to Entertainment award and Lauren Silverman during the Elle Style Awards 2015 at Sky Garden @ The Walkie Talkie Tower on February 24, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 21: Simon Cowell arrives at The X Factor Auditions at Wembley on July 21, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by SAV/GC Images)