The dust has settled on round one of Saturday night’s light-entertainment showdown between ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent and BBC One’s The Voice, with no clear winner yet and all to play for. Britain’s Got Talent won on pure audience figures, with 9.3m viewers as against 8.4m for The Voice – but during the 20 minute crossover when both shows were broadcasting, the BBC show enjoyed a substantial victory with an average of 8.9m viewers against BGT’s 6.6m. The Voice, though, enjoyed the advantage of being on first, and being the first ever episode – this being the sixth series of BGT.
Critical reception for the new kid on the block was mixed – at first glance, The Voice seemed little more than a slight twist on the X Factor format, with the show’s selling point – the blind audition – only being in place for the opening section of the show. From here on in, it appears to be an identical concept to ITV’s flagship show.
Template for mismanagement?
With the BBC having spent £22m importing the show, that lack of novelty raises huge questions about BBC One controller Danny Cohen’s management skills. Importing a format doesn’t just cost a great deal of money; it also eliminates the possibility of exporting the show’s template to generate revenue. In addition, to bring in what appears to be a strikingly similar show to an existing ITV venture, which is itself on the wane – viewing figures for the last series were the lowest yet – appears to suggest a total disregard for the BBC’s own charter of creating original programming.
It is understandable that the BBC would want a slice of the ratings that The X Factor has enjoyed (it is still the most popular show on television), but one must ask why it has taken them so long to attempt to do so. It feels like the BBC has come to the party with an expensive ticket, just as everyone is leaving.
From Simon Cowell‘s side, though, all looks rosy. While he may have appeared rattled – indulging in a war-of-words with The Voice judge Tom Jones in the run-up to Saturday night – he must be secretly pleased. The head to head with The Voice has given BGT a publicity boost, helped along by Cowell’s quips and comments, just as that show was beginning to feel tired. It has also spurred him into freshening up his judging panel with the recruitment of David Walliams and Alesha Dixon – signings who have been universally deemed as hugely successful.
In addition, with The X Factor still the established format, boasting much higher production values and ‘wow-factor’ (although it remains to be seen whether The Voice will match it as the series progresses), Cowell will not be losing any sleep just yet.