X Factor has lost more and more viewers the more they tried to cast certain types of characters. The show’s peak, in 2010, featured a perfect mix of contestants that happened completely by accident - Wagner, 1D, Katie Waissel, Matt Cardle etc. They’ve spent every year since trying to recreate that (particularly trying to find another Wagner). Honey G was the moment the show jumped the shark.
I know 2010 was the peak but that year's success owed a lot to the previous year. 2009 had Beyonce in the final, Whitney mentoring the acts, JLS, Alexandra Burke etc. And if anything Wagner was 2010's answer to Jedward.
With X Factor you can tell the production is led by a record label rather than a television production company. When a record label promotes an artist, they create hype, get attention and sell a record. If the artist hits big they'll take it globally, try and crack the States and usually take their eye off the ball elsewhere, but sometimes the gamble pays off. Either way, eventually when that artist becomes stale, they either drop them or reinvent their brand, style of music etc. There's very little heart involved, not much warmth. It's a production line. That's how they've treated the show. They've dropped talent, tried to reinvent, tried dramatic comebacks. It's pure record industry fodder. But it doesn't suit television. Television (particularly British television) needs far more heart in order for people to have that loyalty and connection.
Before Leona Lewis went to No1 in the states, X Factor was a very different animal. It was a talent show hosted by a former Smash Hits editor that looked for an every day Joe, a builder, a hairdresser or office worker, and tried to find star quality that could make someone a successful popstar. It was very unassuming, low key and we were invested in the contestants to see whether they'd make it big or not. We were in charge, and we would vote for who we wanted to win. Hopefully they'd get a number one in the UK, and that would be great. After each performance the audience would clap, sometimes cheer, and sit in silence eager to see what the judges would say. Post-Leona, the programme set itself a new benchmark. X Factor TOLD us it was going to make a global superstar, and in order to do that it was inevitably going to have to manipulate things in order to give Syco the best shot of huge success. The fanfares got more and more ridiculous, and the studio audience were whipped up into such a frenzy to the point that it felt like the second coming. We were basically told who we should like, and anyone that didn't conform was written off as middle of the road cabaret singers. The judges, once respected for their opinions started making decisions in line with the show's agenda, not that of the public.
It went from a fairly humble show grateful for the public's role in choosing the winner, to an arrogant beast that told us who was best. And even if we didn't do as we were told and we voted someone else as our winner, they'd ignore us and make the runner up the true winner anyway. And that works when you're at peak success, but when you hit a peak, the only way is down.