X Factor 2014 Week-by-week Voting Statistics Analysis

As regular readers will know, we like to analyse the week-by-week voting statistics by converting them into a percentage of the mean vote available for each week. For example, in week 1, there were 16 acts so the mean vote is 6.25%. Andrea polled 19.2%, which equates to an impressive 307% of the mean. In week 9, there were four acts, so the mean vote is 25%. Andrea polled practically the same, 19.1%, but now this equates to only 76% of the mean.

Here are the full calculations. Unfortunately, the show decided not to release the freeze figures for the Saturday eliminations in weeks 4 and 7, so the figures for Jack and Only The Young respectively are skewed and we’re unable to work out what percentage of the vote came before and after the Saturday freeze. It’s probably not dissimilar to the final, when by our calculations, about 63% of the votes were cast after Andrea’s departure. Interestingly, the Ben:Fleur split was 57:43 before Andrea left, and 64:36 after.

What’s most remarkable is how steady Ben’s vote held. Pretty much every single week he was picking up roughly 130% of the mean, give or take a few percentage points. In other words, he was consistently gaining new fans each week, while Andrea never really expanded the base of support he took into the live shows – a testament to how firmly producers kept a lid on his appeal. We can show this in a graph, with Ben’s line looking impressively consistent, while Andrea’s is a nosedive interrupted only by his sympathy bounce in week 8:


Here are the main things that struck us about the statistics, many of them echoing thoughts which have also been expressed in the comments to the last post.

1. The Star got it wrong – but why?

On the morning of the final, the usually reliable Daily Star leaked that Ben got 50% of the vote, Fleur 22% and Andrea 16%, which would have left Lauren on 12%. As it happens, the figures were 36.5% for Ben, 24.3% for Fleur, 20.1% for Lauren and 19.1% for Andrea.

As was perceptively noted by a couple of Sofabet commenters, that means Ben’s semi final vote was 50% more than Fleur’s, so it is possible that the Star simply misunderstood what they’d been told.

An alternative conceivable possibility, floated by Rob at entertainmentodds, is that the Star saw the figures only for phone votes, and not for apps. If that’s the case, we could deduce that app voting was much more favourable than phone voting for Lauren, somewhat more favourable for both Andrea and Fleur, and much less favourable for Ben.

At any rate, the Star’s record is now sullied and we will need to be more cautious about future leaks from this previously reliable source.

2. It was remarkably close in the early weeks

It wasn’t until week 8 that the winner polled more than 20% of the vote. That’s unprecedented. Week 4 in particular was ridiculously close. Ben topped the vote with just 12.2%, while Stereo Kicks were in the singoff with 8.3%.

3. Ben slipped the field in week 8

Although Ben topped the vote from weeks 4-7, it wasn’t by much. It was only in week 8 that he put daylight between himself and the field, establishing a commanding lead which he never gave up. Which makes it all the more mysterious that producers took their feet off the gas with Fleur that week, something we puzzled over at the time.

Could it be that, after the pimping of weeks 5-7 failed to get Fleur above Ben, producers were sanguine about the possibility of her dropping into the bottom two – as she very nearly did – for a James Arthur-esque bounce to the final? Or was it just a miscalculation? Here are the trendlines producers would have been seeing going into week 8:


4. They really didn’t want Lauren

Lauren was polling very solidly in the early weeks, as can be seen from the graphs above, but was gradually dragged down by a series of poor slots in the running order beginning in week 5.

Why did they not want Lauren? One possibility is that they gave up on her in week 4 when she struggled to cope with some very simple dance moves. Another is that producers perceived at this point that there was room for only one of her and Fleur in the final, and acted accordingly.

5. The takedown of Paul Akister was brutally effective

3rd of 16, 3rd of 14, 4th of 12, 5th of 11… 9th of 9. That’s some going. Paul must wonder what might have been had he said “you know what, ‘Bat Out Of Hell’ isn’t really my thing but sure, it’s Hallowe’en, I’ll get into the spirit of it”.

6. They could have ditched Andrea on deadlock against Stevi

Many of us assumed that if Stevi had finished above Andrea in week 7, producers would have taken the opportunity to achieve a headline-grabbing elimination by taking it to deadlock. It turns out Stevi was above Andrea, but they saved Andrea anyway.

It’s a interesting decision, and not just because it passed up the chance of some easy controversy – getting rid of Andrea at this point would also have eased the path to the final for Stereo Kicks, something most of us assumed at the time that producers would be keen on.

If the decision to save Andrea over Stevi indicated they always envisaged him in the final, does this mean they weren’t seeing Stereo Kicks there at this stage, given that Ben and Fleur will have had their berths booked? Or did they perhaps fear that ditching Andrea for Stevi might have risked an unpredictable response from Mel?

7. A mixed picture on the sympathy bounce 

After Steph (weeks 1-2), Jay (weeks 5-6), Stevi (weeks 6-7) and Lauren (weeks 8-9) appeared in consecutive singoffs, there has been much comment about the death of the sympathy bounce. The stats show a mixed picture.

Week 1 singoff survivor Steph didn’t get a bounce at all, going from 46% of the mean in week 1 to 36% in week 2. However, week 2 survivors Stereo Kicks went up from 62% that week to 107% the week after. Week 3 survivors Only The Young went up from 63% to 99%. After their second save in week 4, Stereo Kicks got a second, weaker bounce – 91% to 112%.

Week 5 survivor Jay got no bounce in week 6, his vote declining from 73% of the mean to 68%. Stevi, saved in week 6, did get a bounce – from 86% to 103% – but it wasn’t enough to escape the singoff in week 7. That week’s survivor, Andrea, got a similarly-sized bounce in week 8 – 92% to 105%. However, Lauren didn’t bounce at all, dropping from 89% in week 8 to 80% in week 9.

The conclusion is that producers were very effective at suppressing bounces when they wanted to – as was certainly the case with Steph, Jay and Lauren.

8. Who was the original Plan A?

It’s always interesting to see the opening of the envelopes on Xtra Factor revealing who judges and Dermot predicted to win before the judges’ houses stage. Cheryl, Louis and Simon all mentioned Stereo Kicks, while Dermot chose Lola. Our own 1-16 pre-lives prediction slated Stereo Kicks to win from Lola in second, but their abilities in the live shows put paid to that.

On which subject, hearty congratulations to Sofabet commenter Donald for topping the pre-lives 1-16 prediction contest (you can read everyone’s predictions in the comments under our own), and many thanks to Mech for doing the calculations.

Very many thanks also from us at Sofabet to all commenters for your kind words in the comments to the last post about our coverage this season. As always, it’s the comments that make the site what it is. Do join Daniel for Eurovision coverage in the coming months, and do also keep letting us know your thoughts on the X Factor voting statistics below.

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100 comments to X Factor 2014 Week-by-week Voting Statistics Analysis

  • Scott

    Given the option of Andrea or Stereo Kicks in the final I’d say they’d easily rather have Andrea. I’m now converted to Betsfactor’s theory that the franchise comes first. That being the case, they want the final to be a good show, and he can clearly sing. If they want to make something of Stereo Kicks they’ve had weeks of publicity – take them away and iron out the problems rather than badly expose them in the final.

    All the while I’m gutted they didn’t take that chance as the odds were ridiculous and it would have made me a fortune, even though I never really thought they were going to do it.

  • General Hogbuffer

    What we do not know and what we won’t know until Mel B’s hotly anticipated tell-all book comes out is what exactly goes on behind the scenes and what deals are being made. I think we all know that most if not all of the live finalists are cast/booked through connections, contacts etc etc and do NOT just turn up outside the auditions venue. I would NOT be surprised if there are certain guarantees being made to these act’s agents, i.e. ‘you will definitely be in the live shows’ (Stevie, Blonde Electra) or even ‘we will try our best to drag you into the final’ (Andrea, Fleur), which would explain some of the inconsistencies…
    It’s all very murky, and I only follow this because I am weirdly fascinated by what goes on behind the scenes.

  • Stu

    Daniel and Andrew have done a fantastic job this year – as always. It’s become my favourite thing about X Factor especially during the weak years. I hope there will be a whole load of articles reflecting on this series in the New Year.

  • Well done to the sofabet team. Always feels like something missing when it’s all over. The banter and discussion is great on here even if it does get a bit heated at times. Understandable where money is concerned. But kudos to you guys for providing a good base for us all to share our thoughts and theories.
    Im now eagerly awaiting the write ups to ‘the jump’

  • Andy.

    If they saved Stevi against Andrea it could have possibly caused the vote for Stevi campaign that had raised it’s head on a couple of occasions to really take off, I was personally hoping that would happen as I had a 5 figure Green on Stevi.
    That one cost me £100

  • David Cook

    Thanks to Daniel and Andrew for such great coverage of the series and to all the commentators for such a great range of views.
    As ever the voting statistics seem to raise as many questions as they do answers.
    It’s a pity that they haven’t given any indication of the numbers of votes cast, and the split between app vote numbers and phone votes. The first two weeks Dermot told us that over 2 million votes had been cast and one of the later weeks it was over 3 million. But if the majority of these are app votes then it’s still only around 600,000 out of an audience of 8 million bothering to vote even though it’s free. That tells us either that the majority are either happy with the way things are going, or else they couldn’t give a toss who wins anyway. Ben may have won this with as little as 6% of the audience for the final actually voting in his favour.
    Just one comment about the app v phone votes – if the app favored Fleur more than Ben, as has been suggested why didn’t they push the app a lot more than they did. In fact having gone to the trouble of bringing in the app and free voting I really am surprised how little they seemed to motivate people to actually use it. There’s still a mine of untapped votes out there.
    I think we will see the app back next year – having given people free votes it’s difficult to take them away again. But if Simon didn’t like the result there’ll surely be some more changes to the format or the voting system in series 12.

  • Heisenberg

    In week 7 I was convinced Andrea must have received more votes than Stevi, hence no possibility of a controversial, headline grabbing, deadlock save. It stings a little to learn producers did actually have that option as an Andrea elimination that week would have represented my biggest profit of the series, by a long way! I ended up backing Ben in-play about 40 seconds into Uptown Funk at 1.72 and amazingly finished the series with a small profit.

    I want to thank everyone in comments for an engaging and wonderfully entertaining discussion during X Factor 2014, I’ve enjoyed every moment. Thank you to Daniel and Andrew for expert analysis as always.

    And Stoney – even though she didn’t win – it was still an excellent early call for which you should be awarded your own forum. This one is for you:


  • Kered

    Bit gutted i Did not bet on Ben till the final week considering he had never been in the bottom two despite far less favourable treatment than Fleur.

  • Chris

    All – long time reader here of fantastic articles and sofabet community. I just wanted to say before you all sign off that, although I have watched the x factor enough in the past (the times of Wagner, Sophie Habibis etc) this year I haven’t watched any of the lives at all. I just read this site which is more than enough entertainment! So just wanted to say hats off to Daniel, Andrew, Stoney, Heisenberg et al. The show behind the show.

  • Kered

    Betfair Community forums a very reliable guide many said Ben must be topping the votes from quite early on after Andreas fast start.

  • Kered

    Still did far better than last years x factor which was a disaster.

  • Donald

    Thanks to Daniel and Andrew and all commentators on here for another great series on Sofabet. It makes the X-Factor bearable 😉 Another stellar effort by Daniel and Andrew as a series on here can be much much more demanding now that few years ago.

    Some of the voting shows that TPTB can be highly effective at times but as it gets tighter at the front harder to catch a runaway train especially when the only one who can realistically catch it you are putting under the bus week after week and the week you do get rid of her she is not bottom.

    Something to really take away results analysis, an X -Factor series no.1 on iTunes is as valuable as a tweet! They must have had a street team or something on that, (Few others on here nor I came down in the last shower)

    Again thanks to Daniel and Andrew all for interactions during series and Vienna here we come please God.

    Merry Christmas and a Happy and lucky New Year to all.

  • Alan

    Fascinating stuff. Ive only been visiting this website for the last 2 weeks and questioned the level of Producer manipulation in my first post. Suffice to say I am now fully converted to the Sofabet way of thinking.

    I’m not surprised at all at the lack of TPTB support for Lauren. Is there any precedent for a girl of Lauren’s age having commercial success in recent years? I cant think of any female Justin Beiber springing to mind and whatever you think about him JB has a spark about him that was lacking in Lauren. I just don’t think the producers saw her selling records.

    • Britney was 17 when Baby One More Time came out.

      • Alan

        Yes I did think of Britney but it didn’t take her long to ditch the teen girl look and start peddling a much sexier image. Lauren didn’t strike me as the type to go down that route and Im not sure Syco would get great publicity if they oversaw such a transformation.

      • Jessica Hamby

        MIley was also very young when her first albums came out. Mind you at 17 she was already pretty foxy – Can’t Be Tamed is pretty much a statement of intent and the video still looks fantastic four years later. Apparently she had a lot of creative input even then. I’m not sure Lauren would be able to do the same.

        • Alan

          Yes Miley Cyrus would be the blueprint for a British teenage pop princess. I was forgetting her. She is a ball of energy though isn’t she and again whether you like her or not has that spark (“x-factor”) about her that Lauren lacks.

          For a pop act you can really only get away with lacking that spark (or dare I say it be a bit boring) if you have an amazing voice. Leona Lewis being a case in point.

          • Jessica Hamby

            Billyh Piper?

            Because we want to?

            Lauren was portrayed as the act your mum would like rather than the act you would like (assuming you’re a teenage girl). She was a bit too sappy for a pop princess imo.

  • Alan

    Oh and series highlight has to be Andrea painted gold and given horns. What a way to treat the winner of the first three votes. And Cowell sat there and told him he didn’t like the gold as if it was Andrea’s doing rather than his own. He was done up like a kipper.

    • He didn’t do too badly in the end after they dragged him into the final. Id say out of everyone they shafted this year Andrea got the best deal. Having said that I think in a fair contest he would have won and would probably last longer and make more money for cowell than ben will

    • Jessica Hamby

      The thing is that vocally Andrea actually did a great job with that song. They called him a one trick pony but that performance proved he wasn’t. If they’d given him some more disco and pop dance I bet he’d have really shone with it. Can you imagine what they could have done with “Copacobana”?

      They could have had a joke act that made the viewers at home want to dance. Surely that’s the dream.

  • AlisonR

    The envelopes all being Stereo Kicks. I knew that would be the case (see previous comment).
    They did a good job with Lola too, didn’t they? The “makeover” to look like your mum.
    Great job as ever guys and I’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s posts (even if sometimes several days later as I’m not always available at the critical points!)
    Can you do some correlation on the order called/order finished in for each week? (The “no particular order” question)

    • Interesting that everyone seems to believe that the envelopes are written at the start of the series and opened at the end. If it is genuine it would be a rare segment of the show that’s actually genuine.

      • Donald

        Ha ha Stoney, I have wrapped up on here for X Factor 2014 really, but that is good. another point to put at the back of the mind is I doubt very much we will see as many similar male contestants put through next year after the vote transfers this year to Ben,

        It was so funny ITV were using Fleur Bang Bang on the links earlier this evening and who ever styled Ben for his news interview in studio were doing some job. Enough for this year, thanks for being a great sport all along the way.

        This year I was too busy to get into Eurovision early but next year I going to make sure on the Sofabet sofa or bus early. That iTunes number one hey…

        I wonder were they playing with us all, a few coincidences this year.

  • George

    Looking at the figures, the producers did a good job dragging Only The Young to week 7 with just one bottom two appearance. Suggests that they had interest in both groups rather than just Stereo Kicks.

  • Heisenberg

    My choice for best moment of the final – great photo:


  • Dan

    Obviously not the year of the groups this year. I’m very disappointed with Stereo Kicks, especially as I had money on them. I’m guessing that the lack of talent might be something to do with the way that groups get treated on the show – split up, mixed around, renamed, etc – so no act with half an ounce of the stuff will bother.

    This year also felt like there was too much recycling going on – Steph Nala must have literally just left the Luminites before auditioning this year, Paul was back, as was Jake, and yodeling Barclay Beales. Fleur goes down in history as the only contestant to reach the lives twice (although that was glossed over…)

    Overall for me, small loss thanks to Stereo Kicks (why didn’t I lay when I had the chance?) but would have been worse if not for Ben at 6.4.

    Thanks Daniel and Andrew for the articles this year – any plans for the usual post-mortem or is this it?

  • Lia

    Thank you Andrew and Daniel for another year of great entertainment. Love you guys!!!

  • I still think there’s a lot to think about and discuss. Maybe we should revisit it in September, unless there’s lessons to be learned that can be applied to BGT.

    However, thanks again for letting me inject new life into a tired and dated franchise and helping me make a very handsome ROI. My mum and best mate are both inducted now – though they don’t bet – and they’re picking up some great stuff I didn’t spot off their own bats.

    Looking forward to Eurovision.

    • Stu

      There’s usually half a dozen reflective articles posted in January although there was no mention of it in the above article. It’d be good to have an article discussing what we’ve found out about the voting public through this year and things to look out for next year.

      I do wonder if we’ll be looking at a year like 2011 where the females dominate while the males get thrown under the bus. An all-female top 2 (or even final) would be an interesting first for the show.

  • Curtis

    I think perhaps what we’re seeing here is what many said but I argued against. “Vote transfer” might have played a big part this year. I didn’t believe it before because I don’t really believe it ever has played a big part in prior series, but this graph seems to suggest that Ben just got a steady stream of new fans throughout the series – probably people who were formerly fans of since eliminated acts. Perhaps this is the reality of what free app voting means for X Factor, and that’s a touch worrying, as that potentially means more wins for middle-of-the-road contestants, which isn’t what the show needs I don’t think!

    Not that Ben winning was particularly bad for the show, but if acts like him win it year in year out that does become a problem I think. We’ll see.

    • EM

      Curtis – I’ve been looking at the figures on this at it’s very inconclusive. You really don’t know cause and effect.

      You could look at the raw numbers and see Ben’s vote climb when other “male” acts leave the series – but not in the same way for all of them.

      You could look at Ben and see him grow in popularity in a fairly exponential way through the series apart from Big Band week.

      The trouble for me with looking at vote transference (and I believe it happens obviously) is that trying to predict who’s votes go where is a fools game.

      I could have sat for hours doing cluster analysis and worked out that at the beginning Jay, Jake, Paul, Jack and Ben would be taking from the same pool and that votes from one would go to another on elimination – but from whom to who? All votes or a percentage? How many people are voting anyway? Plus who would Stevi fans prefer? It gets complex.

      Or I could do what I and many others did and see that Ben was the outstanding candidate to come top of those boys and approach it that way.

      Again it’s obvious transference happens but trying to predict it is rash. I saw votes go from Stereo Kicks to Stevi to Fleur this series and people switch from Fleur to Ben during the final.

      For me I’d advise trying to decipher producer intentions and see how that works with past trends. Simpler and much more on the money.

      • Dean F

        I agree to an extent that it is difficult for us to figure out vote transfers etc. especially in the early stages (gets a tad clearer in later stages), but I am sure it is one thing that producers do look out for.

        • Jack

          Agreed with this. Surely producers would have the figures of how individual people voted with the app votes? So if they saw that a lot of Lauren fans were voting 4 times for Lauren and once for Fleur, then they could probably deduce that Fleur would get a big transfer from Lauren fans (Or they were hoping). The fact that the five free votes could be spread out across any number of acts would have helped TPTB to anticipate potential vote transfers.

          I do think Ben benefitted massively by being everybody’s second favourite and therefore getting a lot of free votes from people who didn’t care but thought “Oh well, they’re free; might as well use them”. I was one of those people as I voted for Ben in the final once Lauren left.

          • EM

            There in lies the problem with that argument Jack.

            All you say about how the producers could identify potential second favouritism around acts they could work with that to transfer votes is true.

            However you then say Ben was everybody’s second favourite – if that’s true (and I’d find it hard to argue) then Ben was going to win anyway no matter who you got rid of.

            As i’ve said before if anyone thinks they know enough about music fans/segmentation/demographics and the same for the X Factor audience let them stand up and predict the vote transfer.

            Where do Only The Young’s voted go?
            Stereo Kicks cos they like groups?
            Fleur cos she dances too?
            Lauren because she’s young?
            Stevi because he’s fun?
            Andrea because Mel B liked Only The Young?

            Just as an example when Paul Aikister went which acts received the biggest boost to their vote the next week? Fleur and Only The Young.

            When Lauren went Ben seemed to do best out of it percentage wise.

            When Jay went Ben did best but Fleur, Lauren and Stereo Kicks all did nearly as well as he did.

  • Henry VIII

    Dermot said 10 mill votes on Sunday. So 5 app votes each therefore 2 million people minus a chunk from people using 2 devices or more but plus phone voters. We can’t get an accurate voter figure but about 20% of the 9.1 mill Sunday audience voted. So app votes were a great idea. XF has still got a guaranteed 2 years left and probably a few more years after that. 35% of Sunday’s TV audience isn’t terrible considering SPOTY was at the same time.

    However viewers are still on the decline, turned off by the manipulation. And the quality of the acts has declined (also not unrelated to the manipulation stultifying targeted acts, and putting other acts off applying in the first place).

    I don’t believe in spenglerian cycles, ie transposing the human life cycle onto something man made, therefore things like XF don’t necessarily have to decline ever, and to the point – bring on Eurovision.

  • Dean F

    You have to think eventually the show will want to find a modern/current teen girl or boy soloist to really lift off this show. The difficult thing for the XF though is that it is all about back stories, and as we have seen with Lauren and others in the past, the emotional backstory does not really work with anyone between 16 to 18.

    However I really think this year, that will be who they are looking for.

    I know it is all about opinions, but I really enjoyed the show this year, more than usual, and also enjoyed the commentary from the sofabet team always ready to steer us in the right direction.

  • Dean F

    Also the benefit Ben had, and I said this way back in the early weeks and wish I followed on that advice then, is that Ben was, if not the fave of many people, the 2nd or 3rd fave because he was a nice guy, a hot guy (for the women) and had a rocky edge to his voice, which many people like on such shows.

    Also just sleeping over it, at what point did the show really want Ben to win? Was he always their plan to win? I think it is difficult to believe as it seems TPTB still went into the final Saturday with hope that they could overturn the percentages based on the hearsay of Uptown Funk from the previous week. They still gave Fleur the pimp slot.

    However, there are more mistakes IMO that the show made if they really wanted a Fleur victory.

    Another is Nonna Rita, and probably explains why they took Andrea to the final instead of Lauren as they knew the likely vote transfer of Andrea would go to Ben from SF to Final, so were hoping Fleur could get really close on the first Saturday before Andrea went out. I am half Italian and know a part of the Italian community in London, those that do watch X Factor were definitely voting Andrea, and if any were going to transfer a vote, the Italian being such a patriotic bunch, would always transfer to Ben. Not just Nonna Rita but I feel in general the likely vote transfer from Andrea would always be to Ben, while for Lauren would always be roughly split between Ben and Fleur.

    Week 8 though and two more lacklustre performances of Fleur on the entire show was the real undoing though, they really messed up here. However, it is also true they are content with a Ben victory that will be for sure.

    TPTB really tried in the middle weeks to ensure when Lauren’s time was done, the transfer would go to Fleur, but it didn’t work out entirely that way.

    Which leads me to the question as to why they got rid of SK above Lauren? Obviously they did well to ensure Lauren did not get a bounce at all, but if indeed they wanted a vote transfer, Lauren to Fleur at that stage, having known the week 8 vote, would have been better than the more probable SK to Ben.

    SK did not finish far behind Lauren in the percentages, so I guess the main reason was that 2 sing off saves was enough and they can build a credible career for SK from that and a week 8 finish rather than 1 or possibly 2 more sing off saves.

    A lot things to mull over, and a few lessons to be learned for next year. Not everything is always as straightforwaqrd as first thought. Go back to pre week 8 show, and most in here were saying SK are definite finalists that TPTB want. Yet they had them in a good enough position to get there based on the week 8 percentages (they would have bounced above Andrea if they called no sing off in week 9, could have worked) but they decided not too.

    • EM

      I think you’re overthinking it Dean – I’m not sure it’s the chess game that your scenario suggests.

      Take away all the feelings, thoughts and assumptions – look at the evidence.

      There’s plenty to suggest through the series they wanted Fleur to do well.

      There’s nothing to suggest they didn’t want Ben to win.

      If they’d wanted to Fleur over Ben they would have nuked him instead of mostly songs, VTs and comments that were helpful. They could have given him the full Andrea.

      Same if they specifically didn’t want Ben to win the thing.

      From that you can make many assumptions – they didn’t care who won or (as I suspect) they really wanted a Fleur-Ben 1-2.

      • Dean F

        Hi EM you may certainly be correct that I am overthinking things

        Though the last part of my original comment still stands. A lot of people got burned with that SK elimination and even now looking at the percentages I find it rather strange they did not try push SK to the final. All they had to do was put SK through week 8 then do their utmost to get them to bounce above Andrea and call no sing off. Still surprised they never really did this and so things can be learnt.

        Even now I still do not see why they put Lauren through who was clearly less favoured than SK from week 4 onwards by TPTB

        • EM

          Good questions Dean – it could be we all (myself included) over estimate how important it is to get music stars at the end of the process.

          The X Factor show is worth “guaranteed” money to them from ITV over a certain number of years – the acts after the show are worth much more variable amounts so while I’m sure they’d love to find a Leonna or One Direction every year getting the show right must be the first priority.

          So maybe they just realised the Kicks were never going to happen and jettisoned them, maybe the press coverage for them just made them more trouble than they’re worth. It’s hard to argue that given the low votes that the Kicks got and the amount of effort needed to keep them in showed they were much less popular than Lauren.

          Maybe they saw more £ in Lauren over the next year or maybe they wanted more than one female in the semi final (Cheryl’s ego and all that)

          Or maybe with all their data they thought a slice of SK votes would go to Ben and they wanted him to win or to Fleur and they wanted her to win and so on and so on.

          All possibles. For me the answer is always follow the money and that suggests they saw more of it in Lauren than SKs.

  • fused

    I’ll admit I totally underestimated how well Lauren would do in the vote. For me, it reaffirms my belief that you should pay attention to what people say in “real life” outside the internet as they are likely to be the casual/silent majority/whatever you want to call it, and let’s face it, the internet can get a bit “groupthink” at times.

    Stevi doing well when he did ‘Music Of The Night’ reminded me of Johnny Robinson doing well when he sang The Darkness, so times when they were both taken semi-seriously. It seems the public don’t really vote for joke/novelty/guilty pleasures even if they have some free votes.

    In every series, that we know the voting percentages for anyway, it has only been one or two acts who have topped the vote. The exception is series 6, and I think had Danyl’s ‘I Didn’t Know My Own Strength’ performance not gone so badly it probably would have been him every time in the early weeks (I think Joe still probably would have won in the end, but I digress).

    So thinking about Danyl’s downfall in the vote, there is a precedent for an act that did well in the vote falling spectacularly from just one performance (like Paul this year). Also a precedent for one of Simon’s acts singing a song that hadn’t been released yet. The difference was I guess that Fleur gave a good performance while Danyl didn’t, so in Fleur’s case the gamble paid off (even if it didn’t improve her vote that much).

    I’ve done a blog post about this year’s series, I think I’ve said most of it in my comments on here anyway, but if anyone’s interested: https://headphonedaydreams.wordpress.com/2014/12/15/the-x-factor-series-11/

  • Caro

    In the Guardian article Simon says his target audience is ’16- to 34-year-olds’, but I am not sure that this is necessarily the actual voting audience. Therefore (a few big assumptions here):
    1. I’m assuming that teenage boys aren’t massively into the X-Factor, so the teenagers producers are aiming at will probably be girls, hence the desire to drag a boy band as far as possible (and the judges majority guess of Stereo Kicks in the envelopes). But if the voters are actually older, then a rubbish boy band wont get far, no matter how pimped.
    2. If producers ditched Lauren because there wasn’t room for her and Fleur in the final, I think that there was another blunder in assuming that teenagers would transfer their votes to Fleur. Fleur comes across as a mature performer (she sometimes seems older than 26, I think) and so I don’t see that the 16 yr olds would automatically transfer to her. On the other hand, this transfer wouldn’t work if the voters are older either – older viewers are surely not voting with someone because they identify with them on the basis of age or gender (though they may be for other reasons, such as the regional vote).
    I think that there is an issue with a mismatch between the target and voting audience, which is why the producers didn’t necessarily get the result they wanted.
    The XFactor just isn’t ‘cool’ – look at the judges in terms of age and experience: only Cheryl F-V is relevant to that target group, and Mel B banging on about who her kids like every week as though that will convince voters shows they are a generation adrift.

    • EM

      Spot on Caro – this is a mainstream entertainment show on ITV, teenagers don’t massively care about it.

      If Cowell’s true target is 16 and up then he’d find something a bit more relevant to them than 80s week, big band week, Whitney v Elton week, Queen v MJ week!

      Truth is that over 20s are significantly going to outweigh teen voters on a mainstream show like this, every single time.

      • Jessica Hamby

        Over 20s? I think the show has gone like Big Brother and the majority of viewers are probably over 40s.

        Certainly that’s who they seem to be aiming the song choices at.

        • fused

          I even think the majority of the X Factor audience is probably 50+, possibly even older. I mean, it’s often supposed that women in their 40s are the main audience for The X Factor, but I’ve worked with a lot of mid-40s aged women in various different jobs, and most of them loved modern pop music (Black Eyed Peas, Pink, Pharrell Williams are specific examples). Yet the song choices are mainly from decades in the past.

          The song choices are not just dated though, they are very middle of the road, safe and bland. But that’s because it’s a weekend light entertainment TV show, and a particularly conservative and mainstream focused one at that.

          • Jessica Hamby

            Queen v MIchael Jackson and Elton v Whitney exemplify the points you make in your last paragraph. I’m really not sure who they’re trying to appeal to with themes like that.

          • George

            I remember when app voting was announced everyone thought it was sure to get the teen acts far, and apparently so did the producers if the articles at the time are anything to go by. But what we didn’t pick up on is that most adults now have smartphones too so the idea that teens were going to be the majority users of the app was a little unfounded in hindsight. In fact I would guess that the app voting changed the main voting demographic from elderly women to middle-aged women. This explains Ben doing so well and Andrea being so easy to deramp (funnily enough, I was talking to my grandmother the other day and she couldn’t believe it when Andrea was eliminated – she wanted him to win).

          • EM

            Speak for yourself George! I tried to point out many more adults than teens own smartphones and that teens aren’t particularly interested in X Factor anyway!

            All you say is right – I suspect app voting has made things a more exact science for the producers.

  • David Cook

    Interesting that Simon’s target audience just happens to match a key tv advertising demographic. I sure many advertisers would be delighted if XF did deliver a huge audience of 16 – 34 year olds on a Saturday night. Simon might also get a winner that he wants if this was the audience. But on a Saturday night it seems unlikely.
    Perhaps this is actually one of the problems with the programme in that it’s basically just a Saturday night entertainment programme for a general TV audience. If they were serious about making it more relevant the biggest change they could make is to take it away from the Saturday evening slot – put it on at a time when the key audience are actually likely to be watching. Trade overall audience size with a smaller but more focused target audience. Actually change the format to make it more relevant, not least with the song choices. But it’s not going to happen.

  • Curtis

    I still believe as I did before that looking at where the votes of a specific act are transferred to is a misguided way of thinking of things. It’s particularly hard to do analysis on that because you can only look at the vote of one specific week, and there are so many other factors that go into the vote of a specific such as the actual performance, running order, judge’s comments etc.

    My point is rather that just as a general trend I believe that votes were moved from the eliminated acts to Ben far more than other acts throughout the series, because he’s the kind of guy who is everyone’s second favourite. Before this wouldn’t have happened because no one’s going to pay to vote for someone who they don’t feel that passionately about, but with free votes, people are more inclined to do that now.

    • EM

      I totally get your point Curtis but Ben is the cardboard cut out X Factor winner. Ordinary guy with an ordinary job, “last chance” of stardom, above average looks, does the AOR schtick and doesn’t pine to be credible.

      There’s nothing to say he wouldn’t have won without app voting. Just like in a general election it’s the most in the middle choice that wins.

      I could make a bigger case for app voting helping Fleur avoid bottom two and getting to the final. She’s far less cardboard cut out for the show.

      • Curtis

        Very fair point, and certainly I thought app voting was beneficial to Fleur up until the point we saw the voting percentages. It’s a real shame we don’t get to see the different percentages who voted via each medium!

        However, whilst Ben is indeed a standard X Factor winner, what really isn’t standard is his voting graph. The way it just holds steady like that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. In fact, isn’t the whole thing a lot more steady than usual, aside from Andrea and to a lesser extent, Lauren.

        • EM

          Great spot on the smoother lines not just for Ben but most of them.

          Very well could be a function of the app voting. More votes going around more acts.

  • Jessica Hamby

    So it’s all looking a bit ropey for Sam Bailey. Who’d have thought she’d only have one single out and looks like being dropped after one album?


    I’m sure that won’t happen to Ben. 😉

    • Dean F

      Indeed unfortunately for the show it is another reason why ratings drop year on year. Do not forget a lot of these are peoples faves at some point in time, and if they get treated harshly even after winning the show, they will slowly but surely stop turning in every weekend.

      Was predictable with Sam Bailey though, feelgood winner, but not a Syco act for longer than the winning contract.

      Matt Cardle and James Arthur though for instance were credible acts who I was surprised got dropped after a year, but there were other things involved with that.

      • Martin

        It would protect their brand of “X Factor” a lot more if they were at least seen to be putting some effort in. Sam could have done alright last year if she didn’t get pregnant and get whatever illness she got afterwards. Surely they haven’t lost money on her and she’s worth another punt for a second mothers day?!

        • Jessica Hamby

          Well they’re sutck in that quandry of the acts that are voted for and the acts they want to promote and that sell records.

          Syco doesn’t want to be a label for dads and mums. It wants to be young and hip and happening but frankly I can’t ever see that happening, at least not on itv on a Saturday night.

          They need a show on youtube with each act’s intro vt, performance and judge’s comments as a single clip – and they need musical, credible, respected judges rather than the cobblers they’ve got at the moment. Even Simon shouldn’t be allowed on the panel and there shouldn’t be any nukings because they shouldn’t have any acts that are just there are filler. The different format could be used to make a better show.

          They’ll never do it though. Cowell’s control freakery just wouldn’t let him.

          • Stu

            I think you kind of hit the nail on the head somewhere in your post. I think the producers should cast only the acts Syco would want to sign and therefore when it comes to the public vote, as you say, there shouldn’t be any nuking because there shouldn’t be a contestant in the final 12 that is seen as undesirable.

          • Jessica Hamby

            They’d have to keep the youtube show separate from the itv show – aim it at a younger demographic.

            Another thing which puts a lot of people off – myself included – is that there is so little actual singing during the show. It’s bad enough during the audition phase but at least then they have the excuse that they’re giving the viewers a chance to get to know something about the act. The VTs and judges comments are both longer than the performances during the live shows, and most of it is fluff. No-one wants to hear that silly old cockchafer Walsh telling someone they owned a stage or their a young Oliva Newton-John. It’s the repetitiveness and tedium as much as the manipulation that makes people switch off.

  • Alan

    At the end of the day the show is the priority, finding a Leona or One Direction is just a bonus. Its been going for over a decade now and theyve managed to discover about 5 credible commercial acts. Not a great track record really and makes you wonder why they go to so much effort trying to manipulate the vote. The manipulation has done a lot of damage to the brand and they still get lumbered with winners with no commercial prospects. Doesnt seem worth the effort.

    • Jessica Hamby

      I don’t know if it’s damage to the brand due to manipulation that’s caused ratings to stagnate and fall off or just that the show has been going on so long that it’s incredibly predictable and formulaic.

      If I hadn’t discovered sofabet last year and been tempted by betting this year I wouldn’t have watched it. To tell the truth I think it’s a bit rubbish. The amount of music compared to the amount of filler is incredible. If it was a week night I don’t think it would get anything like the ratings it does – it’s just that it has a captive audience of a certain demo on a Saturday night.

      From the glimpses I’ve had of the american show I get the impression that a lot of the people there who don’t even make the live finals would be serious contenders in the UK show and I do think that the acts we see our often unimpressive.

      I don’t think it’s brand damage that is the problem. I think it’s that the show is actually a bit crap.

      • Nail on the Head, Jessica. It is a show past its’ sell-by date by some way.

        I absolutely wouldn’t be watching this year if I wasn’t betting, and I didn’t watch in 2012 or 2013. Simon coming back I can understand, and it’s a better show for having him on the shop floor, but he really didn’t need to drag Princess Biffa back with him, and in any case Kermit has bought sod-all to the party this year.

        Yes – it is predictable and bland. And it’s always the same guests. Always 1D, Buble etc. Simon always has Sinitta as his aide. Sinitta is always hanging around. What IS the deal there? It’s like that Channel 5 Shocking Celebrity Moments show at Christmas – you always know the neauseating Ashley Pearson will be on there slagging off Lindsay Lohan at some point.

        The manipulation used to just be “there” – in the background but not in your face. Nowadays it’s like Simon personally adresses the kids and tells them Santa isn’t real.

        But because it’s predictable and bland, it makes it easy for us to make money off it, so now I watch the show from this new point of view, I’d prefer it to stay being shit. Despite the downturn in viewing figures, the money in ad revenue to ITV is still far too precious not to have. So whilst ITV, STV and UTV between them can continue charging the amounts they do for the spots during the interminable breaks, the show will remain around.

        • Jessica Hamby

          They also tend to use the same songs year after year and that definitely makes the show incredibly boring. How many times will we have to put up with “Listen”, for instance. I can’t stand that song. They should ban it from the show for the next five years. There are a load of songs which are useful to us as gamblers I suppose, because they tend to indicate producers’ intentions but they’re death to the show becuase they’re repeated every year.

          • Alan

            I don’t think it is any worse than it ever was. I just think people have grown tired of the format and a lot have seen through the pretence of it being a fair competition. Same Difference, Journey South, Tabby, Frankie Cocoza? Let’s face it it has always been naff.

  • tpfkar

    One last thought on the voting. The only week the show clearly didn’t get the bottom 2 they wanted was week 2, when it was Chloe Jasmine against Stereo Kicks.

    From week 1, they had the following at the bottom of the vote, lots of acts close together:

    Jake Quickenden – 5.1%
    Jack Walton – 5.0%
    Stevi Ritchie – 4.9%
    Stereo Kicks – 4.6%
    Chloe Jasmine – 4.3%
    Only the Young – 4.0%
    Stephanie Nala – 2.9%

    So they knew that Chloe and the Kicks were already down there, and that Steph Nala could be contained to bottom place. Jay James next up the road at 5.5% but was given the week 2 pimp slot so makes sense to cut off here.

    Looking at the other 6 acts in week 2:
    Jack – 1st – Straight up. The target?
    SK and Chloe – 7th and 10th. neither song current or particularly well presented; no surprise they were in trouble given the week 1 vote.
    Jake – 9th – Total Eclipse of the heart not playing to vocal strength, but good for the mums vote?
    Stevi – 12th – Never Gonna give you up. Did he outperform expectations?
    OTY – slot 13, Come on Eileen – well known and energetic

    It looks to me like OTY and Stevi were given help to avoid the sing-off. I wonder if the plan was for Jack to be bottom 2 with Chloe, saving Chloe (heading down the Katie Waissel count the sing-offs route) with Jake as backup. If this is on the money, then they didn’t miss by much but got burned by Stereo Kicks underwhelming.

    They ended up with;
    Stevi Ritchie – 5.9%
    Only the Young – 5.6%
    Jack Walton – 5.3%
    Jake Quickenden – 4.8%
    Stereo Kicks – 4.4%
    Chloe Jasmine – 4.0%

    My only other thought is that the Stereo Kicks were given the week 7 pimp slot, and escaped the bottom 3 by 0.6% This might have been the final straw for producers who couldn’t have done anything more for them at this stage. This puts the decision to cut them loose in week 8 into perspective.

    Happy Christmas everyone.

  • EM

    For those who like this sort of thing BBC4 had a history of Saturday night TV documentary last night and on the iPlayer.

    It doesn’t have any great information for betting enthusiasts but did hit a bit on demographics (Strictly being a much older watch than X Factor, think about that on the next overlap) and when Cowell and Fuller pitched the idea for Pop Idol they stated they needed someway of finding hot new acts because they were currently struggling to find people.

    As the shows have taken off I’d bet that balance has changed somewhat but finding talent was the original ethos.

  • Stu

    Another thing to note (which I don’t think has been touched on yet) is Only The Young’s vote share in weeks 5 and 6. They were the two weeks where the group were one of the remaining three acts not to be called safe. Some on here wondered whether it was a tactic to make OTY seem less popular with the public while others thought it may be to drum up some support if they appear vulnerable. Even the theory that the “OTY shouty man” was the reason why they kept being called safe last was thrown around. Now that we have the voting percentages, we have our answer. It does seem common that the last act to be called safe is actually the one who’s just above the bottom two.

    • Dean F

      Or the one they are about to target

    • George

      I think it was them trying to drum up support. They were only just above the bottom two so desperately needed some help. Giving off the illusion that they’re in danger did help a lot in week 6 (from 8.4% to 12.2% – aided by a strong performance) but obviously wasn’t enough in week 7.

      Though if the Sat/Sun voting split was similar to the final, it suggests that they would only have been a few tenths of a percentage off being safe. Of course had they managed it Andrea would have been eliminated – imagine that! They would have been saved over Stevi as well so would have made it to week 8 at least.

  • Henry VIII

    Thanks EM for posting about that program:

    So if ITV commissioned Pop Idol with the pitch that Cowell and Fuller needed a way to get new acts then that might have been the basis of XF too and that would explain why ITV allow the manipulations, which actually downgrade the program (I was amazed at how they messed up Lauren’s backing track). Either that or ITV are just stupid.

    The program also discusses SCD and BGT. It had SuBo’s BGT audition so must have been made post 6/2009. So my big query is why didn’t they mention XF?

  • EM

    Glad you enjoyed it Henry. X Factor was a big omission in that programme which I think is brand new made this year. Possibly because there was no one to talk about it.

    You’d have to assume, as you say, that the ethos of X Factor is the same as Pop Idol

    • Henry VIII

      Yes it did say on iPlayer first broadcast 17/12/14. I wasn’t sure if that was first shown ever or first shown on BBC4, assuming that it would have been shown on BBC1 or 2 first. But it must be new.

      It took us back to a more stable, innocent age. But, in balance, also a more dull age, with a choice of Bruce Forsyth or Larry Grayson instead of multi-channels and the internet.

  • Heisenberg

    I’ve just been blocked by @stevebrookstein for publishing this tweet – an surprising reaction to what was intended to be a complimentary message!


  • Last night’s Gogglebox worth a watch for reactions to the X Factor final – all the families shown were supporting Andrea and annoyed when he didn’t get through. Spoiler alert, Silent Jay even said his first word: “Andrea!”

  • Another funny, this time from this year’s The Voice Of Poland: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxc0g0w23C4

  • eurovicious

    It’s that time of year again – I’m lying in bed waiting for a bearded man to slide down my chimney and disgorge his burgeoning sack. But enough about Ben Haenow: merry Christmas everyone!

  • Stu

    Will we be getting reviews of this series?

    • Daniel

      Hi Stu, sorry for the delay in getting back to you. Holiday season holidays and all that. We won’t be doing any review articles over the next few weeks for a few reasons: firstly, we feel that this article, added to the journey pieces for the finalists and our last 3-4 midweek posts summed up most of what we have to say; and what we do have to add will come in the Spring to coincide with some other stuff we have planned. Happy New Year to you and all our commenters. Discussion thread on CBB, The Voice etc to follow!

  • Henry VIII

    Celebrity Big Brother in two days time. That’s a nice quick one like IAC.

  • David

    I’ve gone with one pre show bet for Patsy Kensit. For no reason other than I’ve always liked watching her on TV, especially back in day when she starred in the Bo Selected sketches. She has always come across well on panel shows and interviews. I reckon she can offer a lot in the house. Whether or not she can express herself in there is another matter.

    After saying all this she probably won’t even be a contestant!

    • Henry VIII

      Patsy Kensit is deffo in it.

      Patsy Kensit @patsy_kensit • Jan 4
      I have a feeling that meditation is going to help me a lot in the next month!

      She’s recently been followed by Callum Best and Alexander O’Neal so they’re definitely in it too.

  • Morning all, have put up a new discussion thread for CBB.

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