Major movements are taking place in the UK TV arena and they involve of two of the region’s biggest music formats – The Voice and The X Factor.
Today the BBC announced that they will cease airing the UK incarnation of The Voice after its upcoming fifth season. The reason? They have been outbid by rival network ITV.
Interestingly, prior to the talent-search’s arrival in UK in 2012, it was the subject of a fierce bidding war between the two channels after the success of the US series highlighted how lucrative it could be.
The BBC triumphed at the time, yet have been under scrutiny ever since. Unlike other media mediums, the BBC is funded by the British public (by way of a compulsory licence fee). As such, the show’s so-so ratings, lack of viable winner, and similarity to other talent-searches have had many publicly wondering whether it was worth what was being paid to the format owners Talpa and Wall to Wall.
It seems this latest happening was almost destined to play out as such, because ITV recently bought Talpa for £355m ($543m).
And while the BBC were still keen to air The Voice for another two years (and made a final bid this summer), they say they have limits. Acting Director of Television Mark Linsey said in a statement today:
“We always said we wouldn’t get into a bidding war or pay inflated prices to keep the show, and it’s testament to how the BBC has built the programme up – and established it into a mainstay of the Saturday night schedule – that another broadcaster has poached it.”
Perhaps most titillating is the fact that ITV own the broadcast rights to The Voice’s prime rival, ‘The X Factor.’ And with the acquisition coming at a time when the latter is lagging in ratings (so much so that there’s been talk to “rest” it next year), many are wondering whether The Voice has has been drafted in to “replace” the Simon Cowell production.
What is certain, though, is that the move will bring about a horde of change. It’s highly unlikely ITV will want the shows to cannibalise one another, hence it’s plausible that the big X will be rested or re-scheduled in such a way for it not to clash with the new priority.
Additionally, it may loosen the strangle-hold of Cowell on the talent-search market – which has maintained a firm grip over the years thanks to shows such as Pop Stars, Pop Idol, and Britain’s Got Talent.
As for what it’ll mean for The Voice? Likely a huge push and much more commercialisation. The BBC aren’t permitted to air ads and were limited in the types of corporate tie-ins allowed. ITV aren’t bound by such restrictions (see: Cheryl Cole shampoo ads during The X Factor), therefore expect the show to be milked like never before.
And why not? ITV not only secured the rights to air a UK version, they bought its production company. So, in every which way, there’ll be a commitment to ensure it slays.