The X Factor is an American music reality competition television series created by Simon Cowell as part of the British The X Factor franchise and produced by SYCOtv in which the judges double as mentors and coaches to the finalists, who are divided into four groups: boys, girls, over-30s and groups.
The series premiered in the USA on Fox on 21 September, 2011.
The X Factor premiered in South Africa on M-Net (simulcast in HD) and Mzansi Magic on Saturday 8 October 2011, at 18h00. It later aired on SABC2 and moved from Mzansi Magic to Vuzu from Season 2. See "Seasons" below for seasonal broadcast dates and times.
Season 2 originally aired on M-Net and M-Net HD from 6 October to 23 December, 2012. New episodes broadcast on Saturdays at 18h00 and on Sundays at 17h30.
Season 2 later aired on Vuzu from 24 February to 16 June, 2013, on Sundays at 20h00. New episodes broadcast in a double bill, weekly.
Season 2 premiered on SABC2 on Saturday 18 January 2014, at 20h00. New episodes broadcast weekly (sometimes in single episodes, sometimes in two-hour blocks).
The winner of the second season was Tate Stevens. The runners-up were Carly Rose Sonenclar and Fifth Harmony.
Expect the unexpected when the world's only $5-million audition returns with two new superstar judges and more surprises and twists.
Season 2 of The X Factor features global pop icon Britney Spears and multi-talented artist Demi Lovato on the judging panel, alongside returning judges Simon Cowell and L.A. Reid.
The X Factor gives viewers the opportunity to help discover the next global superstar or breakout music group. The superstar team of judges travel the nation searching for talent 12-years-old or over - both solo artists and vocal groups - who are willing to brave the panel for a chance to make their dreams come true.
Auditions for The X Factor were held this year in Kansas City, Missouri; Austin, Texas; San Francisco, California; Greensboro, North Carolina and Providence, Rhode Island.
In a departure from other singing competition series, contestants not only audition in front of The X Factor judges but, and perhaps more importantly, they sing for an audience of thousands, which is often referred to as the 'fifth judge' because their enthusiasm - or lack thereof - can help determine the fate of these hopefuls.
This initial audition is the ultimate test to prove they have the vocal ability, charisma and stage presence it takes to become a global superstar or breakout music act and win a $5-million recording contract with Syco/Sony Music.
Those contestants who survive the first auditions graduate to Boot Camp and are divided into four categories - Boys, Girls, Over 30s and Groups. Each category is mentored by one of the show's judges.
Not only is it a competition between the hopefuls to stake their claim for the coveted win, but it's also a showdown among the judges as to whose acts will dominate the competition and make it to the finals.
The judges may have their say in how the competition progresses, but it will be up to America to decide who ultimately has The X Factor.
In its debut season, The X Factor discovered winner Melanie Amaro and several other breakout stars, including Rachel Crow, Marcus Canty and Chris Rene, who signed to major record labels.
The show featured guest mentors Enrique Iglesias, Rihanna and Pharrell Williams, and performances by musical superstars Justin Bieber, Kelly Clarkson, 50 Cent, Jessie J, R. Kelly, Avril Lavigne, Bruno Mars, Alanis Morissette, Willow Smith and Stevie Wonder.
The X Factor is produced by Syco Television and FremantleMedia North America. Simon Cowell, Rob Wade and Siobhan Greene are executive producers for Syco Television.
Cecile Frot-Coutaz, Richard Holloway and Andrew Llinares serve as executive producers for FremantleMedia North America.
Stage 1: The Auditions
It's tough enough to sing in public, but when you step in front of Simon, Paula, L.A. And Nicole the pressure is through the roof. Now add in a live audience of thousands and you've got an audition for The X Factor.
A hundred thousand will try, few will advance. If a majority of the judges (and the audience) think you might have what it takes, you make it through to the next round.
Stage 2: Bootcamp
If you make it through auditions, it's straight to boot camp; a performance pressure cooker that will put your nerves to the test.
You'll be sorted into categories – guys, girls, older singers or vocal groups – and you'll have to prove yourself by singing, dancing and performing under greater scrutiny than ever before.
Make it through boot camp and you're on your way to the big time.
Stage 3: Judges' Houses
After the boot camp selection, each constant category – guys, girls, older singers or vocal groups – is assigned to a particular judge.
The contestants then travel to their respective judge's house where each judge selects the best acts, with the biggest chance of winning, to take to the live show.
Stage 4: The Live Show
When the show goes live, only the best are left. Drawing from their experience, the judges coach the acts in their individual categories on what to sing, what to wear and how to "own" the stage.
The judges then critique the live acts every week, but ultimately it's the audience who decides who has the "X Factor" and wins the largest prize in TV history: a $5-million recording contract.
Season 1: Melanie Amaro
Season 2: Tate Stevens
Season 3: Alex & Sierra
Note: the first season aired on M-Net (simulcast in HD) and Mzansi Magic, but the show was moved from Mzansi Magic to Vuzu for Season 2.
Channel: M-Net | Premiere: 8 Oct 2011 | Finale: 25 Dec 2011 | Sat, 18h00 / Sun, 17h00
Channel: Mzansi Magic | Premiere: 8 Oct 2011 | Finale: 25 Dec 2011 | Sat, 18h00 / Sun, 17h00
Channel: SABC2 | Premiere: 1 Nov 2012 | Finale: 9 Mar 2013 | Thu, 19h30 / Sat, 20h00
Channel: M-Net | Premiere: 6 Oct 2012 | Finale: 23 Dec 2012 | Sat, 18h00 / Sun, 17h30
Channel: Vuzu | Premiere: 24 Feb 2013 | Finale: 16 Jun 2013 | Sundays, 20h00 (double bill)
Channel: SABC2 | Premiere: 18 Jan 2014 | Finale: TBA | Sat, 20h00
Channel: M-Net | Premiere: 5 Oct 2013 | Finale: 19 Dec 2013 | Sat, 17h00 / Sun, 15h00