‘Finals Fatigue’ To Blame For X Factor Ratings Slump?

X Factor bosses have been told that ‘finals fatigue’ was the reason that millions of viewers switched off on Sunday evening, after critics hit out at a marathon four hour programme over two nights at the weekend.

Sunday night’s final saw the poorest viewing figures in years, down 3 million on last year and the lowest Saturday night finals ratings since 2006.

“I hope ITV listen to viewers, two hours on Saturday and Sunday was a marathon,” a senior executive at a TV production company told The Guardian.

“It did feel over-stretched, particularly the Sunday show. Viewers already knew the journey of the contestants, knew their parents were proud and knew over and over from the judges that they need votes.”

“Viewers are cottoning onto TV producers tricks and they feel they are being ripped off,” said a senior executive at a media agency. “They are aware they are being used as vehicles to be advertised to rather than as TV viewers to engage with,” they continued.

Yet avid fans will know that this weekend’s schedule was no different from those of 2009 and 2010, yet neither attracted such widespread criticism. Some have suggested that X Factor as a format has hit its peak and has now started a decline, in the same way that Big Brother sagged in the mid-noughties.

Although some have suggested that a bad judging line-up and a poor year in terms of acts was to blame. “I do think they had an unlucky year with talent,” said a second TV industry executive. “And as for the judges, well whenever there is a cast change it takes time to meld and blend. Look at Alesha Dixon on Strictly Come Dancing, she got criticised after she replaced Arlene Phillips but given time she has worked out better and better.”

ITV have moved to disarm the reports by advising that only the Royal Wedding attracted more viewers in 2011, but Adrian English, head of broadcast at media agency Carat, argues that the X Factor is suffering from “fatigue”.

“Two hours on each night is just too much, I found myself losing interest,” he said. “The X Factor is a cash cow, and ITV needs it to deliver ratings in the most-highly demanded week of the year. The challenge for ITV is to make the content of the finals more compelling. The franchise isn’t dying, but it is suffering from fatigue.”