X Factor Week 8 Betting Post-Mortem

For the last two weekends, this website was the top Google search result for the phrase “vote Wagner campaign” (it took them to our page explaining why the “vote Wagner” campaigners were, from the show’s perspective, useful idiots). A week ago, 116 visitors found us through this search – this weekend, it was only 25.

It was one indication of how effectively the producers had executed their master plan to make the “fun” act not so much fun any more, expertly dampening the enthusiasm of his fans. We speculated earlier in the week how they might try to get Wagner out, and they exceeded our expectations with some even more ingenious strategies, as we touched on in yesterday’s article. It was textbook manipulation and deserves a more in-depth review, which we will do later in the week.

I am breathing a big sigh of relief tonight. Having convinced myself that Wagner couldn’t win, I had amassed £28,000 of liability by laying Wagner on Betfair in the outright winner market, for a return of just under 10%. With that level of exposure I decided not to go in for more long-odds-on punting on Wagner to be eliminated during the sing-off (he traded at around 1.1 on Betfair), and in retrospect I am kicking myself. It just goes to show you should take every opportunity presented.

The script for the sing-off seemed obvious as it unfolded – ‘Unforgettable’ was a perfect swansong for the hugely entertaining Brazilian. But why did Simon feel the need to be so classlessly smug about the failure of the “vote Wagner” campaign in his closing comments? Wagner has served the show well, and it left a sour taste.

The second part of the show’s master plan failed, however. Producers did their absolute utmost to keep Katie in for one more week, but the public were clearly not having any of it. Katie left with a grace that equalled Wagner’s and eluded Simon.

So, the show loses its two headline-grabbers, just before the semi-final stage. Producers have turned the show from tabloid fodder to ‘credible’ singing contest just in time, and it’s all set up now for a fascinating final two weeks for punters.

Mary will be in line for a sympathy bounce (although, as Lee pointed out in the comments yesterday, can the Irish economy afford the phone votes any more?) But she will have to overcome what is most likely to be another double elimination.

The other big story for punters was Abigail88, the source of the infamous “Twitter vote leak” which Aiden mentioned live on air in week 6, and who we interviewed last Friday. She posted on the Digital Spy Forum that Katie was bottom, followed by Mary and then One Direction with Wagner above them. Later in the afternoon, her Twitter page suggested that Katie and Mary were the bottom two, with Matt, Rebecca and Cher “most likely safe”.

Anyone who frequents the Digital Spy forums will be aware that Abigail88 divides opinion, with plenty of posters there vociferously suggesting she is just getting lucky. Frankly, we have no idea what to believe, and we certainly don’t advise taking it all too seriously.

I will say that it wasn’t the most obvious call that Cher would be safe, at a time when – as Mark commented – the betting market was indicating the 17-year-old was in grave danger. She dropped to second favourite to go first during the early part of the results show, and Nick’s always-informative comment pointed out she had evoked an extremely negative reaction on Twitter on Saturday night.

But as we know from Wagner’s continued survival up to this week, it isn’t about how many people dislike you, it’s about how many people vote for you. Once again we saw the power of the sympathy bounce, which – combined with the pimp slot in the running order – enthused Cher’s fans to keep her safe in the week following her sing-off survival.

Working out the script that producers are continuing to map for the show will be our aim at Sofabet over the last two weeks. We’re pretty pleased with how much still rings true of the script we thought we could discern way back before the live shows, in our finishing order prediction of the then-final 12 – but there will be plenty more to speculate about in the coming fortnight as producers continue to react to changing circumstances.

As always, do feel free to agree or disagree in our comments box – we welcome either.

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5 comments to X Factor Week 8 Betting Post-Mortem

  • hanna

    By the beginning of the show-without having a chance to check DS for abigail’s leaks- I was almost certain hat they are getting rid of Katie.
    I think it was done in a subtle but effective way : she got to sing ‘ sex is on fire’, almost demanding a similar type of performance she had in Elton John week, which all judges agreed didn’t really work for her. the public’s main cause of her rejection: the ever changing ‘real me’ was brought up in Simon’s comment when he said something like ‘pop, rock, whatever you do is a good performance’, compliment on the surface but reminds he viewers all the different ‘characters’ she already portrayed. Then the song choice ‘sex is on fire’ after the revelations on her grandma the week before made her to be taken much less seriously. And sure, it was rock week but most of the others had a much looser interpretation of what a rock song is, much more suited to their style. Plus she had one of her worst stylings she ever had on the live shows, the unfeminine outfits were almost like a confirmation to the people saying her hair looks like a boy’s. The recap’s from the show weren’t great either, and at the beginning of the results show it shows simon repeating again that it was a messed up performance.

    Aghhh, I’m actually quite sad that she got voted of. She had to go through a lot with all the headlines and rollercoasters . It’s sad how she was used for ratings and headlines, because she is really talented. The two times she choose her own song for the live-show (week 2 – i’d rather go blind and week 7 -Help) were brilliant, just like her sing-offs. At one point I looked up her older stuff on youtube and some of the songs she wrote are also first class. Yet somehow with the whole dramatic editing in the beginning with the Gamu situation, plus a silly song choice with unfortunate styling for he first show gave opportunity for her to be turned into tabloid-gold.

    Sorry, english is not my first language, in fact I don’t even live in the Uk at the moment, (i watch all online) so I hope what i wrote makes sense.

    I really enjoy reading your predictions, It’s very exciting to try to look into how media- manipulation and behavior-trends play with each other and what the outcomes are.

    • Andrew

      Hi Hanna, I think you make a fascinating point about how it’s possible to read certain things differently. I thought producers were doing all they could to save Katie, but that was largely because I interpreted it in the frame of her getting such a good slot in the running order – her ‘My Gran Is On Fire’ was the last of the first set of songs, just before lines opened. Given that, I just sort of assumed that they chose to allude to the tabloid controversy because they thought it would help her rather than hurt her. I have no idea which is the case, but I assume they know what they’re doing.

      About the song choice and the stylings, I again assume they thought they were helping – but if she’d been sent out first, I would have equally plausibly thought they must have been trying to undermine her with them. I actually think that while they are brilliant at media manipulation, they’re less infallible at judging how song choices and stylings will come across – especially with song choices they seem to be very lazy sometimes, repeating the same old things from previous series – so I always feel a lot more cautious about drawing conclusions from those, unless they seem to be very obvious.

      Your English is excellent, by the way – far better than most English people’s! 🙂 Delighted you’re enjoying the blog.

  • after posting yesterday they was a huge gamble on cher goin i was surprised 2 c her not even in the bottom 3 although dermot did say it was incredibly close something he hasnt said all series so she may av just sneaked through next week is goin 2 b interesting as who does miss cole sacrifice she must no only 1 ov her acts is likely 2 get to the final i am getting realy anoyed at her pathetic song choices for rebecca have they fell out? did u c her face when they called rebecca,s name out first not exactly over excited 2 say the least il no exactly what shes planning as its rebecca turn 2 sing last ov the girls if she gives her bad songs again and puts rebecca on first she may risk losing both ov them surely she must c that rebecca is her best chance ov winning as she has a huge fan base and cher has no likeability factor whatsoever matt is nailed in for the final and whoever gets pimp spot will join him i just hope my suspicians that cole may sacrifice rebecca is wrong as my monster bet on her will b down the plughole

  • Niall

    Hi guys, I read these posts every week, I find it such a great analysis of how X Factor works and the agendas behind the scenes, and I don’t even gamble!

    My flatmate is a complete X Factor luddite, and last week as I was explaining to him what’s going on this year, he suggested that the leak is most likely arranged by the producers themselves. That would certainly explain a lot. What do you think of that idea? And what purpose do you think it could serve or the producers if it is true?

    • Andrew

      Hey Niall,

      Great to have you on board! I totally agree that it’s endlessly fascinating even as a non-gambler!

      Re leaks, I find it really hard to know what to believe. I can imagine that a leak that an act is doing well might lead that act’s fanbase to get complacent and vote less, while a leak that an act is in trouble might inspire the fanbase to vote more. So I would guess there are probably some weeks when producers might quite like the state of the voting to get out, but many weeks when they wouldn’t.

      But as anybody can claim anonymously to have a leak, the only way to build credibility is to be reasonably accurate consistently, so it would be hard for them to pick and choose which weeks to leak.

      In general I’m sure there’s a good reason they don’t release the voting %s from week to week (I guess they could if they wanted to), but instead leave it till after the final – I would assume it’s probably because it would have a net negative effect on their phone vote takings, as the supporters of popular acts would ease off voting to a greater extent than the supporters of less popular acts would increase.

      But this is all pure speculation! As I say, I really have no clue what to believe – open mind, healthy scepticism and bucketloads of salt are in order I think.

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