broadcasting, television, X_Factor-tipping

The Joy of X Down Under: X-Factor has hit Australia, but why are only the Brits excited?

last night the X-Factor hit Australia.  but despite a huge marketing push by Seven, the launch episode achieved only a disappointing 1.186m, making it the fifth most watched programme of the night behind four news and current affairs efforts.  the winner, Nine's A Current Affair, won the ratings battle with – ironically enough – an interview with the family of Matthew Newton, the X-Factor host recently dumped by Seven.

as a big fan of the show in the UK – where it's fair to say it's a bit of a national institution – I've spend much of today (amongst other things) pondering why it is that Australia just doesn't seem to 'get' X …

on paper it should all add up.  Australia likes Reality formats (as evidenced by the huge success of Masterchef); there's a gap in the schedule (the aforementioned Chef has just finished); there's a natural audience underserved by reality music shows (Australian Idol is a distant memory); and awareness of the show's imminent arrival was more than apparent.

but even during the day yesterday there were worrying signs.  I asked a few people if they were looking forward to X that evening to which the most upbeat response I got was "oh, maybe".  in fact the only person with any enthusiasm for rushing home for a night in with the format was another Brit, who assured me that his fellow Brits were similarly excited.  but it seems, as judged by the shows performance, it was a decidedly British sentiment.  a hangover from the glory of the show in the Motherland.

having watched the show there's clearly some issue with the content.  the production quality lacks the shine of the UK version, but this may very much be a result of the hastily re-edited version that Freemantle had to get out of the door following Newton's departure.  but the issues don't stop there – the judges lack conviction; Ronan's quiet as a mouse, Guy is far too puppyish and whilst he had valid comments they just weren't packaged; the Imbruglia seemed to be focusing on how attractive the talent was and poor Kyle just seemed to hold an expression of mild boredom before rolling off a pre-prepared put down.  the judges, ironically, lacked a confidence that's fundamental to their role.

but the content on the other side of the table didn't fair much better.  there was some good but certainly not spectacular singers; if X is hoping for an international recording artist to emerge it better have had more up it's sleeve for the second round of auditions.

but none of this explains the poor performance of last night's show – as none of this would have been apparent until the show went to air, by which time not enough people were watching (and by my straw poll of six they were mainly Brits).

we can only hope and expect that the show gathers pace.  the talent needs to come through and the judges need to find their feet, and the production quality of the live finals will surely increase.  but in the meantime serious questions must be being asked at Seven…  about just why Australia doesn't seem to want the X-Factor; because whilst it's going to be a yes from me, how Australia votes is another matter entirely.


2 thoughts on “The Joy of X Down Under: X-Factor has hit Australia, but why are only the Brits excited?

  1. Can’t help you with the Australian version, but the UK one is showing growing pains at the moment. There’s been an “autotune” scandal and also someone else has been kicked off the show for being “mental” There’s a bit of a trend in this half of the hemisphere where people seem to have had enough of the manipulation and lack of realness in these reality shows.

  2. Unsure if this has been covered in previous entries however the gamble that Ten and Fremantle took in bringing X Factor back to Oz is nothing short of monumental. The format was first introduced in 2005 and whilst blame for it’s premature demise was often thrown at a crowded “Reality Talent” pool, there were questions over the judging panel’s suitability as well as the lower production values.
    In my opinion, the allegiance that Australians pledge to their reality shows of choice pail against the proven UK loyalty to their televisions. Always has.
    Call it climate, population size, differing interests, shorter attention spans… I don’t know, the pattern however has proven that with each reality offering the Australian market seems to wane in interest and bury their programs long before the UK will be ready to put one to bed.
    Newton’s unceremonious exit from the show (from my sources) did result in a flurried one week re-edit over at Fremantle, of some pretty big portions of the first four eps. Re-recording Luke Jakobz new voiceovers and some skittled plot lines undoubtedly resulted in the mediocre plotting… if anyone was a wavering viewer on Monday I doubt they’ll be inclined to return too readily.
    Perhaps too, the reliance on a cookie cutter, overly familiar progression to the presentation likens it too much to now dead and buried Popstars, Aus Idol and the competing Australia’s Got Talent.
    Too much of the same.

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