American Idol 9 debuts tonight, but what will X Factor mean for the show’s future?

Tonight, American Idol 9 debuts at 8 p.m. ET on Fox. While it’s the beginning of Ellen DeGeneres’ at least three-season run as a judge, it’s the beginning of the end for Simon Cowell on Idol, who leaves the series at the end of this season.

After Simon announced he’s quitting American Idol for The X Factor yesterday, Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly told TV critics, “Hopefully it’s a win-win. It’s exciting.” Fox entertainment chair Peter Rice said, “If we can have a show that can replicate the power of Idol in the fall, there’s a big, big reward for us,” though he also insisted the two shows are “different.”

In other words, there’s a big question mark about what having two very similar shows, especially since the biggest star from one will be on the other series.

Here’s my analysis of the most likely scenarios. The most likely, I think, is that this will effectively stop American Idol from being TV’s number-one show, but it will remain strong enough in the ratings to stick around (like CBS’ reality shows have, even though none of them are insane hits), and X Factor will be the same way (like So You Think You Can Dance).

But it’s not impossible to imagine this will destroy Idol and X Factor, as viewers who watch for Simon flee and then flee again once they realize that even though Simon–and probably Paula Abdul–are together again, it lacks the same magic.

More analysis and possible scenarios are here.

Surprisingly, man not eaten alive on Eaten Alive

Eaten Alive

Discovery Channel’s happy family holiday special Eaten Alive aired Sunday, rewarding viewers for their two full hours of viewing by ensuring that they spent quality time in the company of others instead of wasting that time doing something else that might not have been as satisfying, such as buying things that have labels which accurately reflect their contents.

Winter 2015 reality TV debut schedule

winter 2015 reality TV schedule

Mark your calendars with all these upcoming reality TV show debuts, including Celebrity Apprentice, The Bachelor, and another season of MasterChef Junior, all of which kick off in early January.

There are also 20+ shows debuting in December--including the one-off return of The Sing Off. No winter break for reality TV.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.