Simon Cowell's "The X Factor" has a problem, and it has nothing to do with new judges Britney Spears or Demi Lovato. It's those ratings.
The singing show on Fox premiered its second season on Wednesday to shockingly low numbers compared with last year — which was itself considered a ratings disappointment.
The two-hour extravaganza averaged 8.5-million total viewers, swooning 32% compared with last fall's series premiere.
And that's not all. In head-to-head competition during the 8 p.m. hour, Fox lost — in both total viewers and in the key adults aged 18 to 49 demographic — to NBC's rival singing contest "The Voice" (10.7 million). NBC added the additional installment of "Voice" — which usually airs Monday and Tuesday — in a last-minute move that drove Cowell to a near-apoplectic state, saying to reporters that he hoped the move would backfire for his competitors.
Instead, Cowell was the one who wound up humbled.
The ratings bode ill for "X Factor," which Cowell extensively rehabbed after last year's version. He fired judges Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger and brought aboard Spears and Lovato in hopes of appealing to younger viewers. So far, it looked like the moves didn't work.