BEVERLY HILLS, California (Reuters) - After lackluster viewership ratings, Fox’s reality singing contest “The X Factor” will enter season three with a revamped panel dominated by women that creator Simon Cowell says will reflect female artists’ dominance in the music charts.
“The X Factor,” which Cowell created in Britain in 2004 and brought to the United States in 2011, suffered a drop in viewership in its second season, falling from an average of 12.5 million per episode in 2011 to 9.7 million last year.
The show faces stiff competition for fans from other reality talent shows such as NBC’s “The Voice,” which is currently leading the race.
Cowell admitted that many of the judging panels were “starting to look the same,” and by bringing on Destiny’s Child member Kelly Rowland and Mexican artist Paulina Rubio this season, he hoped to reflect the current music industry.
“It’s a girl’s world in the music business, so many girls are doing so well in the charts, we thought the panel should reflect it,” Cowell told a meeting of the Television Critics Association on Thursday.
Cowell has overhauled the judging panel after each season, firing singers Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger after the first season and replacing season two judges Britney Spears and music mogul LA Reid with Rowland and Rubio.
Grammy-winning Latin music artist Rubio said she was hoping to bring her own expertise to the show, in which aspiring singers compete for a spot in the live finals, where viewers vote for their favorite artists.
“I‘m an artist that has been in the limelight for many, many years, and I‘m going to transmit that knowledge,” said Rubio, who noted that she is “not mean” and is also the only mother on the panel. “That means I‘m very mature,” Rubio added.
Previous winners from the UK “X Factor” include pop singer Leona Lewis and boy band One Direction, who both went on to enjoy international success.
Another change will be the prize money offered to the winner of the show, which has been dropped to $1 million from $5 million, plus a recording contract with Sony Music Entertainment’s Epic Records label, under the Sony Corp umbrella.
“We got to a point where the idea was to raise attention, but ... it was almost too much, we want artists who really want to be artists,” Cowell said.
Cowell, 53, also was asked about unconfirmed reports of his impending fatherhood, but he deflected the question, first with a joke and then by citing privacy concerns.
“Unfortunately, I have to keep this for the moment private, it’s just one of those things,” Cowell told the critics.
“There are a lot of things I will eventually clear up when the time is right, but I really have to be sensitive because there’s a lot of people’s feelings involved,” he added.
Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Mary Milliken and Eric Beech