Does The X Factor still have it?

ITV's 'The X Factor' returned at the weekend with a peak audience of 10.3 million viewers. Media Week asks two media buyers "does the talent show still have 'it'?"

The X Factor: returns to ITV
The X Factor: returns to ITV

Last year's 'The X Factor' finale peaked with an audience of 12.5 million, down almost three million from 2011, which was itself down four million from the year before that.

This year's show features the return of Sharon Osbourne, who left 'The X Factor' in 2008. She joins Gary Barlow, Nicole Scherzinger and Louis Walsh on the judging panel. Her return helped Saturday's show beat last year's ratings by 400,000 viewers.

TalkTalk is returning headline sponsor of the show, it renewed its sponsorship of 'The X Factor' for a fifth year in May, while Dominos is the sponsor of 'The X Factor' app.

Brands such as Cadburys and Sainsbury's are also set to air ads during 'The X Factor' according to Daniel Barnes, the head of investment at PHD. We asked him and MediaCom's Phil Hall, has 'The X Factor' has still got it?

Daniel Barnes, head of investment at PHD. Yes.

"'The X Factor' definitely has [still got it]. The numbers are still expected to be at around 10 million. It is the biggest show on ITV, in fact, 'X Factor' is the biggest show of all time. You have got 'The Xtra Factor', you've got the Christmas number one; it's just a massive machine.

"And now you have got the Saturdays and Sundays running through the whole series right from the first week. That will stem the tide of lost impact. 'The X Factor' has come down but it is relative, it's still big.

"Ideally you would have Simon Cowell back in the show but Sharon Osbourne will be interesting to see. ITV seems to think that it will help but personally I am not too sure.

"The figures may have dropped but it was still averaging around 12 to 13 million viewers last year. That is 25 per cent more than it was doing seven years ago, but the proof will be in the pudding in terms of how it will perform this year."

Phil Hall, joint head of investment at MediaCom. Yes.

"It is difficult with anything that has been going on for as long a time as 'The X Factor' has been but it still delivers a big valuable audience. It has gone down but it is still an important programme.

"Reaching young adults or families is something still quite difficult to do. To generate efficient, fast reach it is best not to aim at lots of small programmes but to target as many large programmes as you can that deliver the right audience, which 'The X Factor' does.

"We need a healthy ITV and healthy large programmes on ITV so when we see audience figures dropping of course that is a concern but we are absolutely nowhere near saying ITV needs to pull the plug on 'The X Factor'.

"I think the mistake people make is they look at 'The X Factor' in a bubble. But if you step back and look to everything else, and what there is to purchase if you were trying to reach young audiences you would be looking to buy in 'The X Factor'."

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