With three of British Television’s biggest television shows coming to an end across the last 3 weeks, it’s the perfect point to look at TV Ratings and whether they even matter any more. Daily articles recite the millions of people watching I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!, X-Factor and Strictly Come Dancing.

Over the past year, ITV’s flagship reality shows, I’m A Celebrity and X-Factor have had largely differing success. I’m a Celebrity launched its 13th series on 17th November 2013 with its highest ever viewing figures. 11.25 million tuned in for the launch with a further 0.4m on ITV+1. Despite being the shows 13th year, the appeal to audiences is clear.

These record-breaking figures are contrasted by talent show The X-Factor. Dwindling audiences numbers of the last few years have led ITV to change its position in the tv schedule. After repeatedly being beaten by BBC1 (possibly down to PVR and the ability to record and fast forward through adverts) both shows now only overlap by around 15-20 minutes. Last Saturdays final was watched by an average of 8.5 million people. The lowest amount since the final of the first series in 2004. Whilst still being an extremely large number, compared to the 14.1 million who watched in 2010, the drop is quite drastic.  The final +7 figures (taking into account repeats and on-demand) will likely increase this number, it won’t be anywhere close to previous figures.

The X-Factor is typically pipped against BBC1’s Strictly Come Dancing’s which on the same Saturday night gained 9.9million viewers. The show has increased significantly in popularity over the last few years. The show is in its 11th series with various spin-offs and christmas specials but has developed an upward trend in numbers. How many people watched the final? With a peak audience of 12.6m in the last 5 minutes this weekend, this was still the lowest for a final since 2009. Last years final reached 14m but this may be thanks to a successful Olympic year.

One question that really comes up though is do these overnight ratings even matter any more? Online catchup has become more common across computers and consistent internet access allows viewers to watch whenever and wherever is most convenient. Is X-Factor’s drop in viewers down to how their target audiences are consuming the show. Are viewers moving across to online services rather than watching live?

Sources - BARB
Sources – BARB

As 2013 comes to a close, the focus now goes on the spring schedule with The Voice UK, Britain’s Got Talent and Dancing on Ice taking the limelight and criticism for their audience numbers. How will the last series of Dancing on Ice fair and can Will.I.Am and Sir Tom Jones along with new recruits, Kylie Minogue and Ricky Wilson make The Voice UK a true X-Factor Rival?

The ratings battles go on with a large advantage to TV viewers.With broadcasters fighting for the larger audiences, the production values go up, hopefully giving more impressive, exciting programmes!

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