'The X Factor' Shows Why TV Still Packs A Big Punch

The demise of television -- or at least a dip in revenue, as I would sum it up -- has been a huge subject in the past quarter as ITV admitted that income was going to be down compared to the last quarter of 2017.

While it seems clear that some budget is forecast to be steered away from tv to digital, this last weekend proves that there is life in the channel yet.

Every year my family -- probably like many others -- wonders whether it will be the end of the road for "The X Factor." Ratings have slipped over the years, but it seems to be a resilient show. Just four years ago the show's final -- averaging just over 9m viewers, or one in three who were tuning in at the time -- was seen as a decline. This weekend that figure was nearly halved to an average of 5.5m, with a peak of 7.5m viewers (up half a million on last year's final). 

Despite the lower ratings throughout the series compared to its heyday, Campaign was still forecasting that the show would bring in GBP10m last weekend, or GBP160,000 for a 30-second slot. For a show that many have written off by many, that is a rather huge amount of money.

You may ask how that can be the case for a show with ratings that are constantly in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Simple -- it's all about market share.

Although 5.5m doesn't sound like a huge average for the final of a huge talent contest, the simple fact is that the programme still attracted a quarter share of all tv viewing in that pre 9pm slot. 

People may draw attention to "Strictly Come Dancing" peak audience running at around 50% higher than "The X Factor"throughout the series. However, that kind of underscores the point. There is no advertising on the BBC and so the two big shows must account for around, let's say, at least 50% to 60% of all people watching television on the early evening Saturday and Sunday night slots. That means half are scattered around multiple other channels.

Let's remind ourselves that this still means a quarter are tuned in to "The X Factor" -- or in other words, at least one in three of the viewers tuned in to a channel that offers advertising are watching the same show. Ratings are down for most programmes in a fragmented tv landscape, but that means a programme that gets a big audience stands out all the more.

If you want to reach people in the run up to Christmas -- if you want to hit a big audience with your festive campaign -- "The X Factor" followed by "I'm A Celebrity" have to be the first two shows on any media plan.

The overall number of viewers per show may end up as being down compared to a previous heyday, but the proportion of attention is still impressive. 

Ratings are always important, but as they ultimately have to succumb to a multichannel and tv streaming landscape, the big hit shows will always pull in the big bucks because there is simply no alternative to reaching so many millions of viewers in a single slot. 

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