In a media landscape filled with so much “sameness,” it is peculiar when a show succeeds over a similarly themed program. Why do some singing competition shows perform consistently well, while others struggle for good numbers? This season, the divide is apparent. The Voice is hitting series highs and spearheading NBC’s rising success, while The X Factor is hitting series lows and contributing to FOX’s abysmal decline. How can this happen when the shows are, in essence, the same?
This is all the more confusing if we look at one fact in particular. The X Factor has the one person that single-handedly made singing competitions successful in the first place: Simon Cowell. What does The Voice have that The X Factor does not?
For one, the gimmick behind The Voice is attractive to viewers. The idea that anyone can succeed regardless of appearance, race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. is a great notion, and the show does it well. Another plus is that every judge on The Voice is a relevant recording artist in today’s market. The judges—Christina Aguilera, Blake Shelton, Cee Lo Green, and Adam Levine—also bring an enormous amount of personality to the table. By comparison, The X Factor arguably only has one relevant artist and two with interesting personalities. Finally, The Voice is on twice a year—a strategy that attracts a larger fan base and keeps their viewers coming back.
Also contributing to The X Factor’s massive decline is the one thing that set the show apart from The Voice. Since season one, The X Factor has given the bottom two a chance to be saved by singing for the judges. The Voice, on the other hand, just sent home the lowest ranking contestants, and that was it. This year, however, The Voice has added an “instant save” component: the bottom contestants can be saved by viewers live via Twitter. Additional suspense and viewer interaction has allowed the show to take The X Factor’s competitive edge, leaving its rival in the dust.
In order for The X Factor to rebound, it must be seriously revamped—starting with the judging panel. With the exception of Simon, every other person on the panel—Demi Levato, Kelly Rowland, and Paulina Rubio—is just not quite right for the gig. The X Factor also needs to add interaction to draw viewers to the program. That is, if the show does not get canceled!