“The X Factor” has taken the saying “if you can’t beat them, join them” to heart.
On Wednesday’s performance episode, the four semifinalists had to perform three times. And one of those performances had them doing duets against another competitor – much like NBC’s “The Voice.”
Host Mario Lopez even referred to the round with the same term the NBC show uses for its similar round: a “battle.”
It’s no secret that Fox had bigger expectations for Simon Cowell and his British import, “The X Factor.” It was to be the heir apparent to its aging — though still highly watched by today’s ratings standards — “American Idol.” Instead, “The X Factor” has spent the last three seasons trying to carve out an audience amid the better known “Idol” and the innovative newcomer “The Voice” and failing.
As a result, Fox has renewed its efforts to reinvigorate “Idol” and try to recapture the core audience it has lost over the past several seasons. It’s do or die now that “The X Factor” parachute it had planned on isn’t keeping adrift.
With just about 6 million viewers tuning in to each episode this season, “The X Factor” is a far cry from its inaugural season when it was regularly capturing about 12 million total viewers. Season 2 averaged about 9 million viewers.
So, who can blame “X Factor’s” producers for taking a tip from the competition. After all, “The Voice” is doing a better job of becoming “Idol’s” heir apparent. This week’s Top 5 eliminations episode captured 11.2 million viewers and it regularly wins its time slot for the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic.
Not only that, but it has basically taken “Idol’s” spot in the Emmy race. Nominated twice for Outstanding Reality competition two years in a row, it won the coveted award this year.
And although – as “Idol” judges and producers like to point out — none of its winners have quite made superstar status like “Idol,” “The Voice” is still young and is actually making some headway with Season 3 winner, Cassadee Pope. She has a CMT reality series and her debut album, “Frame by Frame,” reached the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Top Country Albums charts.
“The X Factor” will announce its finalists on Thursday from a very talented crop of singers: latin pop singer Carlito Olivero, rocker Jeff Gutt, dating duo Alex and Sierra and the country group brought together by eliminated soloists, Restless Road.
Fox is no doubt keeping a close eye on whether audiences start showing up for these final two weeks as it considers whether to give “The X Factor” a fourth season.
And we’ll be looking to see if turning red chairs are somehow worked into next week’s finale episodes.
Watch one of “The X Factor’s” battle rounds between Jeff Gutt and Restless Road above.