Fox’s ‘X Factor’ With Cowell Draws 12.5 Million Viewers

“The X Factor,” the new Fox talent competition featuring Simon Cowell, averaged 12.5 million viewers last night, the television network’s biggest September debut in five years.

The two-hour episode attracted 52 percent more viewers in the 18-to-49-year-old demographic, a group targeted by advertisers, than Fox’s programming on the same night a year ago, the Los Angeles-based network said today in a statement, citing Nielsen data.

“X Factor,” ranked fourth overall and second in the targeted age group, may average 20 million viewers a night in its first season and lift Fox’s fall-season ratings, Doug Creutz, an analyst at Cowen & Co. in San Francisco, said in a report yesterday. News Corp.’s Fox is betting Cowell, who departed “American Idol” at the end of the 2010 TV season, can create another top-rated reality show.

The two-episode new-season debut of “Modern Family,” on Walt Disney Co.’s ABC, was the most-watched last night in total viewers and the 18 to 49 group. Two dramas on CBS Corp.’s network also drew more total viewers, Nielsen data show.

News Corp., controlled by Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rupert Murdoch, fell 53 cents, or 3.3 percent, to $15.60 at 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The shares have climbed 7.1 percent this year.

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