In an extremely surprising move considering the show’s history, UK singing contest The X Factor have announced that viewers will be able to pitch in with votes on the competition for free in this upcoming series of the ITV show.
The new 11th season of the series, which on-screen will see the return of judges Simon Cowell and “Cheryl”, newcomer Mel B, and ever-present Louis Walsh, will run as it did last year through to the live show stage, where everything will for the most part be the same… except that when it comes to presenter Dermot O’Leary pitching the voting methods each weekend, viewers who aren’t just easily convinced or related to an act will consider actually taking part considering it would be within their budget range set out for ‘talent show voting’.
The introduction of free public votes for the first time in series history comes through a new official app of the show, running throughout the contest’s decisive live stages round.
Developed alongside Tectonic Interactive and Tellybug, the app will also carry ‘exclusive content’, games, quizzes, and an ‘improved Fifth Judge feature’, enabling users to predict which performers will progress the week and offer online ‘real-time feedback’ to the songs.
Accessible to iOS and Android-based device users, the service will permit a limit of five free interactive votes in a single ‘voting window’, with the votes only able to be allocated to a single contestant or ‘one combination of contestants’.
ITV representative Ann Cook said of the app: “Having successfully launched in-app voting for The X Factor last year, we know there’s a growing appetite for viewers to engage with the show via a digital platform. The new initiative to offer in-app voting for free centres around our ambition to give viewers new and exciting ways to interact with our shows, and explore how a mixed economy of free and paid voting drives interactive behaviour.”
Kat Hebden, from series co-producers FremantleMedia UK Interactive, added: “The introduction of free in-app voting on The X Factor will be a real game changer in terms of how people interact with the show and we’re looking forward to a fantastic series.”
Syco Entertainment’s Mark Brittain summarised: “We are constantly looking to innovate around the show. Giving the viewers the ability to vote free through the app will allow viewers, we believe, an even greater opportunity to interact with their favourite show and, of course, play the hugely important role in deciding the ultimate winner of the series.”
Returning to screens at 8pm on Saturday & Sunday (30-31 August), will The X Factor‘s near-groundbreaking move to enable free votes be the spark that leads efforts to keep on-screen interest going, or will it be the familiar faces in the judging table that have the best shot?