This weekend was the first time in years that we haven’t covered The X Factor UK closely, and the reason is simple: The thrill is gone. The show is stuck in a sea of sameness, and the patterns have become so blatantly predictable. Singing shows were at one point entertainment revelations; now, they’re commonplace. There is one for almost every network that is out there, and with YouTube, Instagram, and other venues where people can sing and become stars, there’s less of a need for them.
The ratings are in for the first episode on Saturday, and we’ve got a one-word reaction for the latest numbers: Ouch. The show premiered this weekend to just 6 million viewers, the lowest audience for the show at this stage since the very first season. We don’t exactly see this turning around, either, since there’s just something about this format that doesn’t quite work anymore.
One of the questions that we could understandably see some people having is this: Why is The X Factor flailing so much when Britain’s Got Talent still performs well? We think that there’s a good bit of this that comes down to tone. When you think about Got Talent, you’ve got a lighthearted, silly show with zany judges and stupid-but-funny acts. It’s a show that is about entertainment more so than anything else, and it never takes itself too seriously. There’s enough creativity so that every season doesn’t feel the same. With this show, however, you’ve got a product that does take itself exceptionally serious, in between the serious packages, the music, the production, and the terrible Six-Chair Challenge. It loses a little of the fun in favor of being this intimidating, bombastic beast. Being a pop star is serious business, but people don’t watch a show to see people be intimidated or nervous. That story doesn’t do anything anymore. They watch a show to be entertained and to have a good time.
If The X Factor is to ever recover, they need to find a way to lighten up the series and get rid of some of the parts of it that take away from it being family fun. You don’t need variety acts, but it should be current and be more about who the singers want to be as artists rather than watching a judge agonize over a decision or see people break down in tears.
We’ll see if things can turn around the rest of the season, but for now, we feel rather doubtful that they can. One of the biggest things the show used to at least boast about was having real stars come out of the show, but James Arthur is really the last performer from the show who has some real legacy of hits.
Did you watch the premiere of The X Factor UK? Share in the comments below, in addition to your thoughts on the ratings.