The X Factor will wrap its third season in the U.S. this week, and despite a drop in ratings, its finalists are dominating the iTunes charts and racking up significant YouTube views.
“I pray at night for iTunes and YouTube,” X Factor judge and mentor Simon Cowell told Mashable. “It’s a record labels’s dream for songs and video clips to take off online. It's expediting everything we do in the industry."
This is a trend that's been emerging in the reality TV singing competition space, partially thanks to iTunes sales counting as votes for contestants X Factor and The Voice. So though some TV viewers are tuning out, many others are advocating for (or discovering) performers via Twitter and YouTube as well as emptying their digital wallets to buy songs iTunes.
X Factor is riding high on social, and this season's resident lovebirds Alex and Sierra knocked established artists such as Pitbull and Kesha out of the top downloads spot on iTunes. The duo currently had five tracks in the top 50 on iTunes in the past week and eight tracks in top 125. The duo for two weeks running reached No. 1 on iTunes chart for their covers of "Say Something" and "Gravity." Fellow contestant Jeff Gutt held five out of the top six slots on the rock chart, while Carlito Olivero routinely ranks on the Latin charts. This is the first year X Factor has charted singles from contestants on iTunes.
Cowell, who ignited the reality TV talent competition space in 2002 withAmerican Idol, is a big advocator of letting the Internet and word of mouth do what it does best. He praised Beyonce’s recent surprise move to debut a full album exclusively on iTunes, along with 14 music videos, heralding it as an effort we could see more of in the future.
“It was such a cool move,” he said. “Old-fashioned marketing is truly changing. We’ve been saying this for awhile with One Direction — don’t push artists on people because they will decide for themselves if they want to share the news with others."
X Factor is Fox Network's most social show, bringing in about 5 million comments across networking sites in the past three months (followed by Gleeat 1.8 million and Sleepy Hollow at 329,000). Fox is also beating out other networks — both cable, premium cable and broadcast networks — for the past three broadcast seasons, with 8 million total social comments for the fall season, followed by NBC (7.4 million) and ABC (6.7 million), according to Nielsen data.
What's In Store for 'X Factor' in the Future?
Changes are in store for The X Factor.
"We'll be coming back in the U.S. next season, but my role on the show may change,""We'll be coming back in the U.S. next season, but my role on the show may change,", said Cowell emphasizing this doesn't mean he would be slipping more into a backstage role.
It's possible the show will also scale back on how often it's live, which is currently twice a week in both two-hour and one-hour time slots: “It might just be on one night a week,” Cowell said. “It could work well. [Two nights] is probably too much.”
Although there's no update on which celebrity panelists will join him next year (this year's panel includes Kelly Rowland, Demi Lovato and Paulina Rubio), he teased who would be in his "dream team" of choices.
“I would pick Paula and Randy from American Idol — they were my favorite judges because we had an incredible time together,” Cowell said. “It was never planned to be what it became, and it was really special.”
And the last spot would be reserved for someone who “would be really fun to watch.”
“I recently met Miley Cyrus, and I really liked her,” he said. “She has an opinion for sure.”