When The X Factor first came to the U.S., the initial reaction was, "Why?" Unfortunately, three years later, the question remains the same.
The Fox reality singing competition show enters its third season Wednesday (8/7c, Fox) with considerably less fanfare than it did last year when Britney Spears landed with a thud at the judges' table. But even the pop princess abandoned this sinking ship after only one season, following the exit of judge L.A. Reid.
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Executive producer and original judge Simon Cowell remains, along with pop sensation Demi Lovato, who stuck around after last year. Rounding out the panel are Kelly Rowland, who was a judge on the U.K. version of The X Factor, and Latin singer Paulina Rubio. Host Mario Lopez returns, but this time without Khloe Kardashian by his side to robotically co-host.
Despite these changes, viewers may be tempted to follow Spears' lead and jump ship. Why? Here are five reasons The X Factor should prep its swan song:
1. It's redundant Want your reality singing competition fix? Try The Voice. Or America's Got Talent. Or The Sing-Off. Or that little show called American Idol. Frankly, The X Factor just feels like an afterthought, a pale imitator with nothing new to offer when there are already several other better and more appealing options.
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2. It hasn't delivered The X Factor is transparent about its intentions to create commercially popular stars. Thus far, however, Season 1 winner Melanie Amaro is not a household name, and Season 2 champ Tate Stevens made only a moderate splash on the country charts with his self-titled debut album. He's talented and well-respected, but his name isn't really recognizable like that of Idol superstars Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson or even U.K. X Factor boy band One Direction.
3. The numbers aren't there Even though Idol's Season 12 finale drew 14.3 million viewers, its most dismal numbers ever for a finale, the show handily beat The X Factor, which only drew 9.65 million for its finale last season. The singing competition environment on TV is glutted, and if plummeting numbers are any indication, viewer fatigue has set in. The X Factor's meager offerings aren't going to cut it when its more successful competition is also struggling.
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4. Its support is waning The departure of Spears signaled an end to the optimism of Season 2, when it seemed like the show could redeem itself from the cast shakeup in Season 1. Similarly, the show has reduced its much-ballyhooed $5 million prize to $1 million this season. And although Cowell has tried to play it off as a "more reasonable figure" because "we wanted artists who wanted to be artists," it smacks more of a loss of faith in the show.
5. Lack of consistency The X Factor will only be entering its third season, and yet its judging panel, hosts and even its prize money have gone through major overhauls. This lack of continuity and consistency is just bad branding, and the audience can't know what to expect from the show, which needs to take its own coaches' advice on how to build a following. The show's tepid reception and inability to leave a clear stamp on the TV landscape mean that it's lacking precisely what it's trying to promote: the X factor.
Will you give The X Factor another chance? Or do you think it's time to call it quits?
The X Factor's two-night premiere airs Wednesday and Thursday at 8/7c on Fox.