LONDON — Has the British version of “The X Factor” lost its X Factor?
According to a report in best-selling U.K. tabloid, the Sun, published on Monday, no lesser figure than its creator and erstwhile judge Simon Cowell reckons the latest U.K. version of the reality-talent hybrid needs to up its game.
“Sort it out. This is not good enough,” the Sun quoted Cowell as telling producers.
The reviews and declining audience figures for the new U.K. season of “The X Factor” tell only one story since Cowell quit the show in order to concentrate on the U.S. version.
Since bowing on ITV in 2004, viewing figures have grown year on year — until now.
Last weekend’s show was around 2 million viewers down on a year ago, according to the latest overnight ratings.
This was the second weekend running that ratings for “The X Factor” nose-dived by 2 million following the introduction of a revamped panel of judges, without Cowell.
Saturday’s edition of “The X Factor” averaged 9.6 million viewers, a 38.5% share, between 7.45 p.m. and 9.55 p.m. This rose to 10.05 million when timeshift channel ITV1+1 is factored in.
Healthy figures, but in 2010 the equivalent show scored an average audience of 12 million viewers, a 46.6% share. At the time ITV1+1 did not exist.
The following night’s results show got 11.4 million viewers, a 40.5% share.
This increased to 11.63 million when ITV1+1 is added.
A year ago this show achieved 13.41 million viewers, a 46.7% share.
Even more embarrassing for “The X Factor” is that BBC rival “Strictly Come Dancing” (on which “Dancing With the Stars” is based) averaged 9.75 million viewers against “The X Factor” when the two went head to head. (“Strictly’s” average across the whole show was 9.1 million.)
“Strictly’s” strong perf, paradoxically, could offer encouragement for all those involved in the British version of “The X Factor,” the eighth series, because two years ago “Strictly” was itself in the doldrums.
Now the dance show’s back on form following new investment and renewed efforts by the production team.
But before Cowell and co. get too spooked, it needs to be remembered that despite the ratings tumble “The X Factor” still reigns supreme as British TV’s top show — for the time being.