Skip to Content

Cowell reportedly offered $108 to $144 million to stay on Idol, but critic calls that “impossible”

Simon Cowell’s contract expires at the end of American Idol 9, so he’s now in the middle of contract negotiations, which is why he’s been threatening to leave the show for a while now. Stoking the flames and/or his value to the series is a report in The Guardian that “[a] source close to Fuller says that Cowell has already been offered three to four times the $36m he was paid for American Idol in 2008 — but then, he is the most important person on the show and the series makes $900m a year and attracts audiences of 25 million.”

That “three to four times” $36 million would be $108 to $144 million; last fall, Forbes said Simon currently earns an estimated $45 million per season. But Newsday’s Verne Gay calls that new $100+ million number “suicidal” and writes that “there is NO WAY Fox is going to pay him $144 M a year. Impossible. That would exceed the profit of the entire Fox network, in all probability, and wipe out whatever’s left too. It would be the highest services contract fee in TV history, by a vast margin. It would be suicidal — for Fox and for the entire TV industry.”

Hovering on the edges of Simon’s negotiations is The X Factor, the American Idol-like series that Simon created in the UK and that he owns, unlike Idol, which is owned by 19 Entertainment. There’s been speculation that Simon could bring the show to the U.S. and abandon the Fox series for his own show.

The paper also reported that Cowell plans to “join forces with the retail multibillionaire Sir Philip Green to form a global entertainment company that will create and own television content on both sides of the Atlantic.” Previously, The Financial Times reported that Simon was working with Green, who was “travelling to Los Angeles to advise Mr Cowell on a new contract to appear on the Fox network’s American Idol,” a “contract that would make him the best-paid star of TV, with a deal likely to surpass even Oprah Winfrey’s estimated earnings, according to a person familiar with the talks.”

Maybe then he’ll be able to afford a t-shirt shirt that doesn’t look like he just got it out of Goodwill’s dumpster.

Can Cowell back a global winner? [Guardian]
Is Simon Cowell Worth $144 M (A Year?) [Newsday]
TV’s Cowell and retailer Green join forces [Financial Times]

All reality blurred content is independently selected, including links to products or services. However, if you buy something after clicking an affiliate link, I may earn a commission, which helps support reality blurred. Learn more.

More great stories

About the author

  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.


I value our community at reality blurred, which connects people through open and thoughtful conversations about the TV we’re watching and the stories about it.

Comment rules: My goal is for us to be able to share our perspectives and exchange ideas in a welcoming, supportive space. That’s why I’ve created these rules for commenting here. By commenting below, you confirm that you’ve read and agree to them.

Happy discussing!