Will American Idol Work Without Simon?

What your station can learn…

Can American Idol survive the loss of Simon Cowell?

Ratings in his final year declined as the season wore on, and some just think the show has run its course.

While I am often a contrarian, A.I. has some key strengths, strengths your station can learn from and apply:

  • American Idol has become less about singing than personal stories of courage, persistence, and redemption.
  • The show is unpredictable. Beautiful voices can come out of ugly faces, and shattered lives, and we can’t always predict the most talented will stay.
  • It remains highly entertaining. Even during auditions, when I am convinced many try out to win bets at their frat house, just as we can’t pass an accident without glancing at the gore, we almost have to watch these implosions.
  • A.I. is trying to stay fresh. Ellen didn’t really hit her stride in this first season, but let’s see how she fares next year, and let’s see who the 4th judge is. Freshness gives it a chance to weather the upcoming storm.

But here’s American Idol’s trump card: It is deeply emotional. The back stories, the raw disappointment, broken dreams, the tears and triumph make us FEEL strongly, almost every episode. And we will always stick with entertainment that brings out our emotions.


Simon provided the star power for this show, and unless they unleash someone even more compelling and talented than he, I think a decline is inevitable.

Some talent is irreplaceable.

If you don’t believe me, ask John Scully, the man who fired Steve Jobs.