The X Factor vs. American Idol: Which Is Better?

Simon Cowell (left) and Ryan Seacrest

Jason LaVeris/Getty, Frazer Harrison/Getty

updated 09/22/2011 AT 12:00 PM ET

originally published 09/22/2011 AT 2:45 PM ET

The X Factor is finally here!

And after a premiere night that included wild, wacky and wonderful auditions – and an unpopular switcheroo on the judges’ panel – the ratings are also in.

More than 12 million viewers tuned in to watch the premiere of The X Factor Wednesday night, which is a lot less than the more than 26 million who tuned into see Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez on the season 10 premiere of American Idol in January. Still, Wednesday’s debut was Fox’s biggest for a fall series in five years, the network said.

It may be unfair to compare a brand new show’s first episode to an established ratings giant like Idol, which has been around since Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood were unknowns. However, Simon Cowell himself suggested at Fox’s press tour in August that his new show would do better than his old show. And he reportedly told The Hollywood Reporter that anything less than 20 million viewers would be a “disappointment.”


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