After Fox’s "The X Factor" got trounced in the ratings Tuesday night, not just by rival singing competition "The Voice" on NBC but also by CBS’s "NCIS," the Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker is asking whether Simon Cowell can save the show.
"Fox’s singing contest re-emerged Tuesday night with a serious baseball hangover, drooping to just 4.9 million total viewers with a two-hour special, according to Nielsen," Scott Collins writes in the Times piece. "True, Cowell’s extravaganza has had to contend with several weeks of postseason baseball and World Series interruptions — its most recent telecast before Tuesday was way back on Oct. 10 — and the Tuesday slot is not its customary time period.
"But so what? Those are lousy numbers, no matter what sort of excuse is made for them. And given that ‘X Factor’ is one of TV’s most expensive shows, that doesn’t bode well for its future on the struggling Fox lineup."
The piece notes that "The Voice" delivered more than twice as many viewers Tuesday night — 11.6 million — going head-to-head part of the time with "X Factor."
"That’s not all," Collins notes. "’X Factor’ lost not only to ‘NCIS’ and ‘The Biggest Loser’ — it barely beat ‘Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ A repeat of ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ That hurts, people."
In Fox’s target demo of viewers 18-49, "Factor" lost about one-fourth of its audience from earlier this month, the piece notes.
The problem, Collins writes, is bigger than just one night of bad numbers.
"’X Factor’ has been deflating for some time. So what’s the problem?," the piece asks. "After a rocky first season that ended with Cowell firing Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger as judges and basically starting over, the producers tried to ramp up the show-biz glitz and brought on Britney Spears, who lasted all of one harshly reviewed season.
"This time around, there’s a lot of contrived suspense centered on ‘four-chair challenges,’ in which contestants who think they’re safe might be scooped away at any minute. It’s a lame attempt to inject some drama into proceedings that are supposedly about finding the best singer, not seeing who can survive the weirdest parliamentary challenges."
The bigger problem, the piece suggests, is a glut of TV singing competitions, with "The Voice" and "American Idol" proving stronger than Cowell’s show.
"’X Factor’ just doesn’t have its act together the way ‘The Voice’ does," Collins writes. "In fact, it’s making ‘American Idol’ — which itself changes judges the way Lady Gaga changes costumes — look like a model of stability and good taste."