February 8, 2014 / 1:05 AM / 5 years ago

Fox cancels 'X Factor' as Simon Cowell returns to UK version

Alex Kinsey (L) and Sierra Deaton (R) look at their mentor and judge Simon Cowell (C) as he speaks during an interview backstage after the folk duo won "The X Factor " in Los Angeles, California, December 19, 2013. REUTERS/Kevork Djansezian

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - U.S. television singing contest “The X Factor,” led by judge and show creator Simon Cowell, was canceled on Friday after three seasons, network Fox said on Friday.

“The X Factor,” which was unable to replicate the ratings success of fellow Fox singing contest “American Idol,” was only able to muster 6.2 million viewers for its season three finale last December, about half of its first season finale audience.

Cowell, 54, whose acerbic on-screen personality helped transform “American Idol” into one of the top shows on U.S. television, will also return to the UK version of the show in an effort to help declining ratings there.

“I’ve had a fantastic time over the last 12 years, both on ‘The X Factor’ and ‘American Idol,’ Cowell said in a statement. “And 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!)”

“The X Factor” was seen as a way for Cowell to put his own stamp on U.S. reality television as it was a show he created and produced, and helped lead it to popularity in Britain.

The U.S. version of the show struggled to find the right mix on the judging panel, running through nine different personalities in its three seasons on the air.

In 2012, Fox spent a reported $15 million to hire pop singer Britney Spears as a judge on the show in a bid to boost ratings, but she was unable to turn her star power into larger audiences for Fox.

Last year, viewership fill to about 6 million per episode from 9 million in 2012. Its main rival, Comcast Corp-owned NBC’s “The Voice” drew about 12 million viewers per episode.

Cowell, a British media and music mogul best known for the biting criticism of contestants that helped draw viewers to “American Idol,” will be without a show on U.S. television for the first time since “Idol” began in 2002.

Reporting by Eric Kelsey. Editing by Andre Grenon

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