Simon Cowell's show still holds the X Factor for ITV bosses


ITV has said it "fully intends" to continue "into 2017 and beyond" with the X Factor - despite reports the show could be rested following disappointing ratings and the acquisition of The Voice from the BBC.

Speculation about the future of the Saturday night talent contest has grown since the latest series saw viewer numbers averaging 5.9 million and with 8.4 million tuning in to watch the December final - significantly down on the programme's heyday.

At the end of last year ITV confirmed it was taking over The Voice from 2017, although its director of TV, Peter Fincham, said the show would be joining the "family" alongside existing programmes like X Factor and the other Simon Cowell-inspired talent search, Britain's Got Talent.

ITV snapped up Talpa, the Dutch production company behind The Voice, in April in a deal that could cost up to 1.1 billion euros (£781 million).

On Thursday, an ITV spokesman said: "The X Factor and Britain's Got Talent contracts come up for renewal after the latest series air later this year, and we fully intend to continue with both shows into 2017 and beyond."

The X Factor withstood another blow at the end of the latest series when its youngest ever winner, Louisa Johnson, reached only number nine in the charts at Christmas with her Bob Dylan's cover - the lowest entry for any winner over the show's 12 series history.

Last month, former X Factor host Dermot O'Leary said he thought Cowell should take the show off air for a year and take it back to its original format.

O'Leary told the Radio Times: ''If I was Simon I'd take it off air for a year. I'd rest it, and then I'd get back to the rooms.

"For me it was always room, arena, boot camp.''