Much has been made this year about the competitive rivalry between the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing and ITV’s X Factor. The latter is edging the ratings war at present, and Sunday’s show when Cheryl Cole made her solo debut and Whitney Houston returned to a UK stage for the first time in a decade pulled in some 15 million viewers.
But there’s also a PR war being fought out in the media between the two shows – and Simon Cowell & co are winning that one too. Research commissioned by PRmoment shows that X Factor is getting 68% of the total mentions of the two shows, over twice as much as Strictly Come Dancing. But the coverage isn’t about the contestants on the shows – it’s about the judges.
Not so long ago, we blogged about the fact that it was the judges who were being judged on Strictly after the hype of Alesha Dixon replacing Arlene Phillips, but analysis of the stories surrounding the shows proves that this was just the start of a trend. Recently, Dannii Minogue was pilloried in the press following a remark she made about singer Danyl Johnson’s sexuality. And this week it’s been all about Cheryl Cole and whether she sang live or not. Meanwhile, on the other channel, Craig Revel Horwood has publically defended Anton Du Beke for making an unfortunate comment about his celebrity dance partner’s spray tan.
What the media coverage of the two shows highlights is just how much of a phenomenon both have become. The tabloids quite simply love gossip, and where celebs compete against each other you can guarantee that someone will put their foot in their mouth at some stage. The PR war is now all part of the shows themselves and ensures that come Saturday night, we’re all tuning in or setting our Sky+ to make sure we don’t miss the next drama unfolding. It’s just a shame that we don’t really care all that much who wins and who loses.