TELEVISION audience figures have plummeted throughout the latest series of the once-unmissable X Factor.
Throughout its 2012 run on ITV, the programme’s ratings have consistently been down on the previous year and a shadow of viewing figures at the peak of its popularity.
Viewers appear to have been turning away in droves since Simon Cowell left the judges’ panel after the 2010 series, and by last weekend’s semi-final, the Saturday night edition was down 40 per cent when compared with the show two years earlier.
Viewers have also been switching to BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing this year. Its viewing figures have been up to two million higher.
Last Saturday, The X Factor had eight million viewers, while the equivalent semi-final show in 2011 drew 10.6 million and the show the year before was watched by 13.7 million.
This year’s final had a huge uphill task to match its best. In 2010, the two-hour final results show was watched by an average of 17.2 million viewers, and at its height more than 19 million people were watching – the highest non-sport TV audience for almost a decade.
In contrast, BBC1’s Strictly has been toasting its best-ever audiences this year.
The X Factor normally experiences a lift in viewer interest as it reaches its climax, but last Saturday’s semi-final was actually down 200,000 on the previous Saturday.
Last Sunday’s results show fared better with nine million, but that is actually down 2.9 million on the equivalent show in 2011, and 6.1 million down on 2010.
Fortunes have waned since show supremo Cowell and Cheryl Cole left the judges’ panel. The failure to produce a significant rise in the audience as the series nears its end will probably cause concern for ITV bosses, who have tended to see the X Factor as one of their bankers in terms of audience and advertising.
Last night, X Factor finalist Christopher Maloney was hoping a song by his mentor Gary Barlow could help him cruise to victory. The former ship’s crooner was expected to team up with judge Barlow to perform his Take That chart-topper Rule The World during the duets section of last night’s final.
Maloney has proved popular with viewers despite bookies ranking him the outsider to win and failing to gain the backing of the other contestants who made it through to the live stages. He is up against James Arthur and Jahmene Douglas in the finals.
The star-studded two-part finale, being staged in Manchester last night and tonight, will see the trio trying to impress judges and viewers with a range of songs in the hope of winning the title.
The other finalists performed their duets with mentor Nicole Scherzinger, with Arthur performing Adele’s Make You Feel My Love and Douglas singing the late Whitney Houston’s hit The Greatest Love Of All.