Simon Cowell ditches American Idol for the “X-Factor” US version.

“American Idol” judge Simon Cowell will leave the popular talent show after the season that starts Tuesday, January 12. MarketWatch columnist Jon Friedman discusses the significance of the move with Simon Constable in the News Hub.

(CNN) — Longtime “American Idol” judge Simon Cowell said he’ll be leaving the popular Fox talent show at the end of the season, the network announced Monday at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, California.

Cowell’s popular U.K. talent show, “The X Factor,” will be coming to the United States in the fall of 2011 with the acerbic critic in tow, according to Fox.

“I want to leave ‘Idol’ this year bigger and better than it was in the past,” Cowell said at the TCA tour Monday.

Cowell will be both executive producer and judge on “The X Factor.”

“I’m thrilled that we have put a date on the launch of the U.S. version of ‘The X Factor,’ and delighted to be continuing to work with Fox,” said Cowell in a statement. “We have a fantastic relationship, a great team and are all very excited about this.” iReport: Will you watch “Idol” without Simon?

Speculation has raged for weeks as to Cowell’s future. Though he’s well paid for his “Idol” work — an estimated $36 million per season — he has expressed a desire to focus on “The X Factor.”

Cowell said at the press session that it’s taken some time to reach an agreement for his new duties, hence the buzz. (Indeed, he signed the last page of his “contract” on stage with Fox executives Peter Rice and Kevin Reilly.)

“[I] didn’t think it was right to do two shows in America at the same time, so [I] decided to leave one and start another,” he said. (CNN.com)

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