Simon Cowell has reportedly decided to axe The X Factor after 17 years.
The music mogul launched the singing competition in 2004 and it went on to start the careers of Leona Lewis, JLS, Olly Murs, Alexandra Burke, One Direction and Little Mix. However, the dwindling viewing figures couldn't be ignored, with only 5.3 million people tuning in to watch Dalton Harris be crowned the winner in 2018, compared to the 17.2 million who watched the 2010 final.
Cowell decided to rest the format after the 2018 series and focus on his upcoming gameshow Walk the Line, and on Wednesday night, The Sun reported that he was shelving The X Factor for at least five years, although sources believe it's "unlikely" that it'll ever return to U.K. screens.
"Globally, it is still a phenomenon and rakes in millions every year. But in the U.K., there is no question it has become slightly stale," a show insider told the publication. "Simon remains at the top of his game and knows how to make a hit. He owns the rights to the show, and it's his call - not ITV's - whether or not he drops it.
"Clearly the last thing he wants is for X Factor to fizzle out with a whimper and become a bit of a joke - especially in contrast to the show in its pomp.
"It is still on the back-burner and there's the option to return it in 2023, with auditions next summer, but a lot will ride on his new format Walk The Line."
Following the report, a spokesperson for ITV confirmed: "There are no current plans for the next series of The X Factor at this stage."
Walk the Line is a six-part series which will see musical variety acts being given the choice each week to cash out and leave or stay in the competition and play for potentially more money. Cowell will head up the judging panel for the show, which is expected to fill the primetime Saturday night slot this winter.