"What made 'X Factor' so special to us was Simon Cowell and his insight into what makes great television, and his ability to identify new talent," said Pepsi's Cooper. "This is a great opportunity to go back into music in a much deeper way."
In phone interview from his London home, Cowell recalled his initial meeting with the Pepsi executives last year. "We just hit it off," he said. "I've always said that 'X Factor' would be the next generation talent show. Pepsi was an automatic fit."
Pepsi, Cowell noted, was more aggressive than its rivals in trying to snare the sponsorship rights. "I like working with hungry people," he said.
What's more, the selection of Pepsi only serves to ratchet up the rivalry between "American Idol," backed by Coke, and "X Factor," backed by Pepsi.
"Bring it on," said Cowell. "I love it."
Of course, Pepsi's big gamble could backfire if "X Factor" fails to attract the audiences that it has in Britain, where it has delivered enormous ratings and lit up the Internet with chatter about the various contestants.
Pepsi also has rights to Internet platforms related to the show.
"This is not a blind bet," D'Amore said. "We have huge confidence in Simon Cowell. He's learned a lot from "American Idol," and the ratings outside the U.S. for "X Factor" have been very strong. Not only that, but we are putting our marketing resources behind this show, so you shouldn't under estimate what we can do together to drive this property."