The government has finally gotten its wish. The Voice UK will no longer air on BBC following the upcoming fifth series. The loss of the talent show from the BBC One channel happened without interference from the government, instead coming about because the BBC were outbid for the continued airing rights. That’s unfortunate news but not groundbreaking. The Voice UK has been a nice alternative to the commercialism of X Factor and ITV but on the whole it has failed to produce any successful music artists.
What’s more shocking is who might have outbid BBC for the rights. ITV is looking like the hot favourite at the minute, with some reports suggesting ITV have already signed the contract, while some rumours suggest it’s not a done deal yet. That ITV would want The Voice UK isn’t that surprising. BBC previously outbid ITV for the rights to the show. But it does mean that ITV has monopolised British singing competitions. While I wouldn’t be surprised if ITV aired both The Voice UK and X Factor ( and Britain’s Got Talent) it does seem like it might be overkill. So where does that leave X Factor?
Sky is the most popular choice. X Factor detractors will be happy to see the show gone from freeview and it will largely eliminate competition with The Voice UK. Simon Cowell likely isn’t happy with this outcome however as it leaves the X Factor on a channel where it will get less viewers and subsequently less votes. In a survey of 25.1 million homes in 2012, only 9.4 million were found to own Sky. Can any artist produced by X Factor on Sky really be said to represent the views of the voting public if that voting public represents less than half of UK homes?
Moreover, there’s no guarantee that without the competition from X Factor or Britain’s Got Talent that the The Voice UK will draw better viewing figures or more successful music artists. Because one of the best ways a talent competition can draw an audience is by having a successful participant in the music charts years after the competition has ended. It gives credibility to the contest and the judges and thus far The Voice UK has utterly failed to produce any lasting success for any of its contestants. At least X Factor has had successful winners as well as runner ups who have become mainstays of the British music scene. Chances are The Voice UK will take X Factor’s current Saturday night slot against Strictly Come Dancing and there’s certainly no guarantee that The Voice UK will draw more viewers than Strictly.
The landscape of singing competitions and Saturday night television is changing. Maybe this is a good thing, as some changes to the Saturday night line up might create more engaging and interesting television. On the other hand, lack of direct competition usually allows for complacency which doesn’t generate compelling TV shows. Whatever the outcome, this is one less point that the government can criticise the BBC over.