Despite all of its fancy new bells and whistles — namely new judges Britney Spears and Demi Lovato — "The X Factor" didn't quite dominate the competition in its second season debut, as was expected. Instead, the show tied for first place with its direct competitor, "The Voice."
The ratings for the coveted 18-49 demographic read as follows: Fox took first place in ratings numbers for the demo, and second place in total viewers with 8.7 million. NBC came in second in ratings but first in total viewers with 9 million. On the whole, ratings for "X Factor" were down 23 percent from its season-one premiere.
So how did that happen? And what does it mean for the future of these two shows? MTV News sought out a few experts and fans for their thoughts on the subject.
"People were afraid to try something new [in tuning into 'X Factor'], but what they missed out on was the greatness that was Britney and Demi," said Erin Gross, co-owner/editor of FanGirlIsh.com. "Xtina ain't got nothing on them. They are innovative, fun, new. And they can relate to a new generation, not just horny women drooling over Adam Levine, though he has good abs."
MTV's resident reality-singing-show expert Gil Kaufman was especially surprised by the lower premiere numbers for "X Factor."
"Given how much more polished and entertaining a production it is, I'm baffled by the drop in ratings for 'The X Factor.' That said, one hour of the show was up against the season performance finale of 'America's Got Talent,' which is one of the solid summer ratings kings, and it also had to face the unexpected rear assault from the third night of 'The Voice' auditions," Kaufman explained. "It's possible that reality singing show fatigue is setting in, but the fact that 'Factor' didn't manage to get an album in stores by last year's winner, Melanie Amaro, couldn't have helped matters when it comes to raising awareness. You'd think the Britney and Demi factors were enough to get people to tune in, but perhaps star panelist fatigue is also setting in after all the shuffling among 'Factor' and 'American Idol.' "
One of the clear points of contention was the fact that NBC made the last-minute decision to expand its coverage with another night — the same night as the "Factor" premiere, which has people divided on its affects.
"I was annoyed because I want to watch both shows," said competition show expert MJ Santilli, editor of MJ's Big Blog. "It was a disservice to fans of competition singing shows for sure, but it's business. And in retrospect, it was a very smart move. Today, the press is all about how 'The Voice' beat 'The X Factor,' not about how BOTH shows have fallen since their previous seasons."
So what does all this mean for the two shows' respective ratings futures?
"I think ['X Factor'] will pick up viewers," said Santilli. "Especially if there are contestants who capture viewers' imaginations. Also, the fallen ratings could be at least partially attributed to season one's train wreck. If the word of mouth about the 'new' and 'improved' 'X Factor' continues to be good, people will tune in to see what the fuss is about."
Kaufman doesn't think the road ahead will be easy and that reality singing competition fatigue might be spreading.
"With new episodes of fall shows slowly making their way onto the air, it's not likely that 'Factor' will dramatically increase its numbers any time soon," he said. "Not only is the competition tougher thanks to 'The Voice' poaching viewers earlier in the week, but 'Factor' is kind of like the homeowner who decided to put her house on the market in late 2007: the crash hasn't happened yet, but things are starting to get ugly. 'Idol' is considerably down in ratings, 'The Voice' is already showing wear-and-tear and 'Factor' isn't going to get the same major push in year two that it got last year. Ratings tend to go up a bit once the live shows start, but Cowell and company might have to settle for a much smaller piece of the pie, which is troublesome given the $5 million prize and buckets of cash Fox is clearly putting into the production."
What's your opinion on the ratings? We'd love to hear them in the comments!