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