“Britney Spears on ‘X Factor’ brought nothing other than her fame,” said Yahoo Music managing editor Lyndsey Parker, who writes a blog about music reality shows.
Of course, those salaries pale in comparison to that of Cowell, who according to Forbes was making at least $45 million per year in his final years on “Idol.” But some of the recent “Idol” judges have been remarkably well-paid considering their performance.
Earlier this month Minaj, a streetwise and eccentric pop-rap diva making a reported $8 million this season for her work on the program, showed up nearly 15 minutes late for the crucial first live telecast from Hollywood — a notable misfire for a show that prides itself on high production values.
She finally slid into her chair during a commercial break wearing a hoodie and novelty sunglasses, never addressing her tardiness.
But the more important point is that “Idol” is still hugely profitable for Fox, and therefore it and its imitators may be around for a long, long time.
“These shows cover a lot of problems for the network, because they cover so many hours with pretty good or very good numbers,” Darnell said. “It’s not just the number. It’s the amount of hours. And that’s why these shows are so valuable.
“You’re still better having them on than having them off.”