The other day Simon Cowell did a touching thing – he publicly announced that he’d take a pay cut from ITV. At first I thought this was Cowell’s attempt to jump on the credit crunch bandwagon to come across all in-touch-with-reality as a cunning pre-emptive PR tack. However, watching what’s happened with the Susan “the badger” Boyle phenomenon in the last week, Cowell’s move now all makes a lot of sense.
Cowell needs ITV just as much (if not more) than ITV needs Cowell. This is because Cowell’s new media model is firmly reliant on ITV. Cowell has cunningly devised a buzz-generating / fame-making model which relies on the symbiotic relationship of mainstream media (TV and press) and social media. A relationship where his TV show feeds YouTube / social media which feeds mainstream news media which feeds YouTube / social media which feeds mainstream media etc. etc.
It’s not by luck that 3 of the most highly viewed clips on YouTube are linked to him: Leona Lewis, Paul Potts and Susan Boyle, whose videos (between them) have been viewed over 200 million times.
The big question is – would Cowell be able to generate such levels of buzz if his shows weren’t prime time ITV? The answer to that is a clear no. And Cowell knows it – hence how he’s so heart-warmingly offered to take a pay cut from ITV. The other option is of course to join Richard and Judy and their 6,000 viewers on UKTV . . .