Simon Cowell has announced that he is leaving "American Idol" at the end of the current season to concentrate on launching an American version of his hit British TV show The X Factor—another singing talent competition—on Fox next year. But Cowell's caustic style as a judge on Idol has been one of the main drivers of the show's immense success, and many commentators wonder if it can survive his departure. Is there an American Idol without Cowell? (See a compilation of Cowell's worst contestant putdowns)

The show is over:
It's the end of the line for American Idol, says Jim Cantiello on The talent competition is "synonymous" with Cowell, and "no one can replace him." When he jumps ship, a "massive chunk of the audience" will following him over to The X Factor. Don't drag this out, Fox—do the right think and put Idol out of its misery "like a sick dog."
"Why there is no 'American Idol' without Simon Cowell"

This is a chance to improve American Idol:
Absolutely, the program "can survive without the V-neck loving Brit," says Michael Slezak at Entertainment Weekly. There must be "at least a half-dozen" people in the music industry "smart, funny," and "telegenic" enough to "steal Simon's chair." And while Fox is ringing in the changes, why not find "new and improved substitutes" for judges Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi?
"'American Idol' without Simon Cowell: Three reasons I'm optimistic about the show's future!"

Fox could be the loser here: The X Factor, Cowell's new show, has been "extremely popular" in his home country, says Andy Dehnart on MSNBC, but it's far from guaranteed to be a success here. Having "two singing competitions a year" could split Idol's audience, leaving Fox with two relatively successful shows, but "not a series that is feared by other networks and seems to be an unstoppable force."
"How will 'Idol' fare against 'X Factor'?"