NBC just announced that next week's "The Voice" Season 3 premiere will be extended to three nights, Monday through Wednesday, conveniently--or not so conveniently, if you're an "X Factor" fan--overlapping with next Wednesday's big "X Factor" Season 2 premiere. And this news isn't just sending conflicted reality fans' near-capacity DVRs into meltdown mode. The biggest meltdown of all comes courtesy of "The X Factor's" own Simon Cowell, who is taking NBC's programming decision very personally, calling it "a cynical, cold-hearted, unprofessional way of doing business."
Speaking to TMZ, a furious Simon claims that Fox and NBC had "gentleman's agreement" (how very British of him!) that their shows would air on separate nights--Mondays and Tuesdays for "The Voice," Wednesdays and Thursdays for "The X Factor"--allowing fans to easily watch both. Therefore, he believes that this is a retaliatory move--and a very personal one--on "The Voice's" part, after one of Simon's other TV shows, "Britain's Got Talent," totally trounced "The Voice U.K" in an overseas ratings war earlier this year. "These guys have really got it in for us. It's nothing short of dirty tricks...I can't bear it that the network is playing political games and playing with the audience," he says.
Moreover, Simon fears that someone else is going to be even more distraught: his new co-star, Britney Spears, who just happens to be the longtime frenemy of "Voice" coach Christina Aguilera. "Britney's not going to appreciate the fact that Christina--who has been a bit of a rival--isn't allowing Britney to have a night of her own," he gripes. "She's going to be devastated because she's put her heart and soul into this."
Well, aside from how upset Simon and Britney may be, I have to say, I too am dismayed--but for different reasons. I've long argued that "The Voice," a show I thoroughly enjoy and hope to see on the air for years to come, is risking serious burnout by coming back so soon (only four months!) after Jermaine What's-His-Name won Season 2. And I can't imagine why NBC executives would think running THREE "Voice" episodes in a row would in any way alleviate such reality-competition fatigue. It's a potentially risky and flat-out dumb move on NBC's part, one that could have long-term repercussions as it prematurely runs one of the NBC network's few successful franchises straight into the ground.
[Side note: Ironically, the penultimate and grand-finale episodes of "America's Got Talent," a program that Simon Cowell actually executive-produces, is ALSO airing the same nights next week as "The X Factor"--so maybe Simon should be equally angry with himself!]
Anyway, let's be honest: Simon doesn't have much to worry about here. Come on, does anyone really think that a third consecutive episode of "The Voice" will siphon off that much traffic from Britney's big television debut? I don't blame Simon for being hot under his (black T-shirt) collar, but when next week's Nielsen ratings are tallied, I think the angriest person of all will be the boss of the NBC employee who came up with the cockamamie idea to run an extra "Voice" episode in the first place.