Two weeks after Antonio “L.A.”Reid confirmed that the second season of the U.S. version of “The X Factor” would be his last on the judges panel, rumors of Britney Spears’ exit from the show spread like wildfire on Thursday (Dec. 27), following a report from Us Weekly that painted the pop star’s fate as all but sealed. Although Spears has indicated that she would like to return to the Fox reality competition in 2013 for a second season as a judge, a source tells the magazine that fellow judge and show mastermind Simon Cowell is actively trying to push the veteran singer out: “He wanted crazy Britney, but he got boring Britney.”
A spokesperson for the show has told the Los Angeles Times that it’s simply too early to answer questions regarding Spears’ future with the show. “No one has discussed next year’s judging panel,” says the “X Factor” rep. “Any reports otherwise are complete speculation.” Whether Spears returns for Season 3 or is “fired,” as headlines have announced today, the pop singer’s potential departure from “The X Factor” comes after a mixed season that failed to live up to the hype that came with the addition of Spears and Demi Lovato as judges.
After the British “X Factor” generated hitmakers like One Direction, Leona Lewis and Olly Murs beginning in 2007, Cowell expressed the desire to see the stateside “X Factor” surpass the ratings of his previous Fox smash, “American Idol,” and rule the reality ratings roost upon Season 1’s September 2011 debut. That didn’t happen. 12 million viewers watched Season 1 each week according to Nielsen, compared to 15.8 million weekly viewers for NBC’s “The Voice.” And Season 1 winner Melanie Amaro, whose debut album will not make its way onto shelves by the end of 2012 as initially expected, has thus far been unable to establish herself as an organic star like recent “Idol” champs Scotty McCreery and Phillip Phillips.
Unfortunately, that legacy is still a bit unsatisfactory. The two-hour September premiere of Season 2 of “The X Factor” underwhelmed in ratings, averaging 8.5 million viewers and a 3.3 rating among adults 18-49 — which was a 25 percent drop from the 2011 series premiere, according to affiliate ratings. The show’s ratings grew as the vocal talent improved, and by the time that Fox announced in October that “The X Factor” had been renewed for a third season and had added Khloe Kardashian-Odom and Mario Lopez as live show co-hosts, the 18-49 demographic was up to a 3.9 rating and the total viewership averaged 10.6 million. But the
Season 2 finale on Dec. 20, which garnered 9.6 million viewers and a 3.1 rating, was down 18 percent from the final episode of Season 1. Adding insult to injury, the Season 3 finale of “The Voice” easily trumped its Fox counterpart when it aired two nights earlier.
Of course, the Season 2 talent was coupled with a judges panel and a pair of hosts that produced neither scintillating entertaining nor keen vocal insight.
“Crazy Britney” should not have been expected or desired upon Spears’ entry into the “X Factor” world, but the pop superstar’s presence on the show was admittedly less beguiling than originally anticipated.
Too often was she stuck back-patting the competitors when she should have been mentoring them; as the source tells Us Weekly, Spears’ job was not to be outrageous, but it was also not to “say ‘amazing’ and offer half-claps.” Along with the unexceptional ratings and the $15 million price tag that accompanied Spears’ involvement with the show, it’s no wonder that her departure is at least under discussion.