America’s Got Talent gives Simon Cowell biggest ratings hit since X Factor 2010

The show’s success is dubbed the ‘Cowell effect’ as young singer Grace VanderWaal wins the top prize

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America’s Got Talent is celebrating bumper ratings, and Simon Cowell – who joined as a full-time judge for the first time this year – will be delighted (but probably not at all surprised) to learn that it’s being attributed to the ‘Cowell effect’.

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The final of season 11, which went on to be won by sensational 12-year-old singer Grace VanderWaal, saw an average overnight audience of 14.13m, 48% up on the same episode in 2015. And the performance edition the night before drew 13.98 million, with a peak of 15 million, a more than respectable 20% increase, together making this the most-watched series of AGT in five years.

It’s something of a return to form for Cowell personally too, giving him the biggest ratings he’s earned while acting as a judge since he sat on the X Factor panel in 2010 – you know, the one when he mentored those One Direction lads who people mention every now and again? An overnight hit of more than 17 million made that the most-watched show of the year.

Surprisingly, US counterparts haven’t always beaten UK shows in the ratings, despite having a bigger pool of people to attract.

But, as well as a bumper crop of amazing talent – VanderWaal herself winning with an amazing original tune – the praise is being heaped on Cowell.

“Simon created more of a gravitas to the judging panel; it’s not just a talent contest, but stars can be made,” Howie Mandel – who sits alongside Cowell with fellow judges Mel B and Heidi Klum – told USA Today. “[Contestants] come on with hopes of not just doing well in this contest but having a career beyond this – and singing in front of Simon Cowell means more than it ever meant before.”

Yep, they don’t like him… they love him.

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Cowell continues on our own telly boxes on The X Factor this Saturday (8pm) and Sunday (7:30pm) on ITV.