Is Simon Cowell taking over British TV?

Just how many hours of Syco TV are shown in the UK each year? We do the maths…

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This Saturday night, Simon Cowell’s latest entertainment offering, Red or Black (unofficial strapline: “It’s not gambling, it’s a game of chance”), hits our screens for a week’s worth of live shows (it’s on seven nights in an eight-day period, cleverly allowing ITV to screen the England v Wales game on Tuesday and squeeze another Saturday show into the mix).

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But for those who worship at the altar of Simon Cowell, the high (trousered) priest of British talent show TV, Red or Black’s 675 minute running time is but the blink of an eye.

I’ve undertaken some in-depth research into the prevalence on British television screens of shows emanating from Cowell’s production company, Syco (I’ve added them up), and I think it’s fair to say the results are startling.

A committed fan of The X Factor, Britain’s and America’s Got Talent and Red or Black (assuming they watch all of the main shows and their various spin-offs) would view, in just a single year, 147 hours of Sycotic TV.

Let’s put that into context, shall we?

You could watch the complete Harry Potter film franchise (19 hours), follow it up with the Star Wars saga (yes, sorry, even the new films – 13 hours), see every canonical James Bond film (44 hours 30 minutes), then all five seasons of The Wire (60 hours), and still squeeze in a kip before series one of The Only Way Is Essex (6 hours).

Or how about a 24 marathon, blitzing all eight of Jack Bauer’s “real-time” anti-terrorism adventures (144 hours), before doing the weekly shop?

Whichever you chose, that’s more than six whole days. Take the rest of the week off, you deserve it.

Let’s look at it another way. Saturday nights are precious. But if you watch every episode of The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent, plus both weekends of Red or Black, that’s over 40 per cent of your annual allocation right there. Twenty-two of arguably the most valuable nights of the week consumed by Cowell. 

And it doesn’t end there. Simon Cowell is currently in America preparing to unleash The X Factor USA. And, of course, ITV2 will be showing it.

Assuming it gets as much airtime as the original show (which racked up 69 hours and 30 minutes in 2010), we could be looking at a grand total of 216 hours of Cowell-conceived programming. 

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I’ll leave you alone with that sobering thought. I’m off to watch The X Factor…