With Simon Gone, ‘Idol’ Can Survive Ratings Hit – Here’s Why!

Simon Cowell on 'American Idol' (Photo: Fox)

Simon Cowell on 'American Idol' (Photo: Fox)

As a handful of investors packing thick wallets and tendering hefty bids circle CKX Inc., the company that produces ‘American Idol,’ the Fox series’ longevity has again come into focus.

Coming off a typical 9 percent decline in viewers and facing its first season sans judge Simon Cowell, “What I see in my mind is a series of question marks,” Brent Poer, a senior VP at the advertising firm MediaVest, tells the Los Angeles Times.

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Yet as much as Fox might be fretting over an ‘Idol’ without Cowell (who is now is developing a U.S. edition of ‘The X Factor’ to debut on Fox in fall 2011), there is a plus to his subtraction. Investment analyst Mark Argento of Craig-Hallum Capital Group posits that with Cowell’s $35 million salary deducted from Fox’s cost of doing business and Fox collecting some $800 million in ad revenue, ‘Idol’ can remain profitable “even if the ratings get cut in half.”

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Of course, no one goes into a nine-figure deal hoping for a ratings drop. So the question remains: What exactly do those offering upwards of $600 million to buy CKX hope to get for their money?

At the very least, they have this coin to count on, as detailed by the Times:

* A flat fee, paid by Fox to CKX and coproducer Fremantle Media, of $1 million to $1.5 million per hour for the season’s first 37 episodes. The fee then surges for any hours beyond that first batch – and mind you, this past season Fox ordered an additional 19.

* A supplemental “contractual license fee” that this past round totaled $35.5 million

* Bonuses paid based on the show’s ratings

What do you think, ‘Idol’ faithful? Should the show in fact brace for a 50-percent plunge in viewership? What will be the key to bouncing back from the lackluster Season 10?

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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