'Pop Idol' format to earn £35m for Fuller

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The Independent Online

Nine days after the nation chose Will Young as its musical darling, the real winner of the Pop Idol phenomenon is to be revealed today in a deal to sell the programme to America.

Simon Fuller, the former manager of the Spice Girls who jointly owns the format of the show, could make as much as $50m (£35m) from exporting it. Fox Television is reported to have signed a contract with Mr Fuller to produce a 15-episode version of the programme to be called American Idol.

The deal has been struck through Mr Fuller's company 19 Television, which will be paid $1m a show when it hits American screens this summer. Both 19 and Thames Television, a subsidiary of the media giant Pearson, have a 50 per cent stake in the Pop Idol format.

The deal will yield Mr Fuller an estimated further $20m through advertising deals and phone revenues generated by viewers calling fixed rate lines to vote for their favourite singer. A further $15m would come in the form of royalties from the American winner through a licensing deal with record companies.

The value of Pop Idol will have risen because the British version proved it could generate vast revenues. At first, the producers hoped the show might register 5 to 10 million votes across the 20-week series but the final show alone saw 8.7 million telephone ballots cast.