The X Factor Decline: Bring Back Simon

November 27, 2012

Talking about the demise of The X Factor is becoming a seasonal tradition. We’re in season 9 now and the show is no longer the phenomenon it was in its youth. The decline has been steady over recent years, but this year, it’s positively haemorrhaging audience. The show is now caught up in weekly ratings comparison with the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing. This week ‘Strictly’ emerged victorious for the fourth week in a row.

The X Factor Decline

And the trend is the same here in Ireland. Year on year on year, The X Factor is in decline. But what’s particularly interesting this year is not only the overall trend, but the fact that the audience is slipping away week by week. This is an altogether new worry for the show’s producers; in previous years the show could be relied upon to gather audience as it neared its finale.

It’s hard to put a finger on what it is about this year that is causing so much grief for The X Factor. The hype around the show is such that it’s difficult to tell if a ratings drop is caused by a reaction to a specific event, or if it was happening anyway. Last  week, Ella Henderson, a ‘favourite’ was voted off the show. What followed (at least in the media outlets where attention is paid to such things) can only be described as public outcry. A ratings decline followed. Did one cause the other? Who knows? Shock evictions have happened throughout the show’s history; the shock has worn off and the ratings haven’t plummeted.

So what’s going wrong this year? Are viewers just bored? 2012 has had its crooner, its belter, something for the cool kids, some rock and roll and two boybands. There should be something there for everyone. And regardless, the show’s writers probably have more to do with how much we like or dislike the contestants than they do themselves. But this year, the show seems to lack that which made it into to the TV giant it has been. It’s lacked…well…The X Factor.

Is it the panel? It might just be. Arguably, the panel is more packed with A list talent than ever before, but they’re all so nice to each other, it’s hard to remember where the show started out. Where is the tension, the intrigue, the infighting?  Sharon Osbourne was no Nicole Sherzinger, but at least she threw glasses of water of Louis Walsh’s head and accused him of taking her husband’s drugs.

Simon Cowell

And then, there’s the Simon factor. Gary does his best to channel Mr. Nasty, but his attempts at world-weary viciousness just don’t measure up. According to the Daily Mail, Simon Cowell is considering coming back to the UK for next year. If he comes back, is it possible to recover the audience that’s been lost? I wonder. If it’s to thrive again, The X Factor needs to stop playing it safe and get out of the middle of the road.

Claire

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