Live 'X Factor' Stokes Sky Italia's Ambitions

By Vivarelli, Nick | Variety, January 30-February 5, 2012 | Go to article overview

Live 'X Factor' Stokes Sky Italia's Ambitions


Vivarelli, Nick, Variety


ROME

Rupert Murdoch's Sky Italia recently became the first platform to beam music talent contest "The X Factor" Uve exclusively on pay TV - a key step in the satcaster's growing involvement in local production.

Underscoring Sky Italia's trailblazing effort, the Italo finale on Jan. 5 was broadcast in 3D, another global first, with more than 1 million of the paybox's 5 million subs glued to their sets.

"X Factor," a top Twitter topic in Italy, generated 772,000 votes from its live audience during the finale, nearly as many as Italy's top-rated "Sanremo Song Festival" drew over five nights in 2011 on pubcaster RAI.

"X Factor repeated on News Corp.'s free-to-air digital TV web Cielo.

"For 'X Factor' all over the world, (its) big strength is (that) its an event for a collective audience," says Andrea Scrosati, Sky Italia's VP for programming and promotions. "But we proved that you can take this format, which is undoubtedly conceived for generalist TV, and make it a big success on pay TV - and certainly not as a niche show."

In terms of ratings, the previous four Italo "X Factor" seasons pulled in more than twice as many viewers (an average of 2.6 million) on RAI-2, where the show was considered an underperformer.

But these days, one-time ratings are not such a key factor.

"Scoring 1,050,000 live spectators for the finale (among) Sky's subscribers makes ratings metrics a whole different ballgame," says Aldo Grasso, TV critic for newspaper Corriere della Sera. "It forces a rethink of the way we gauge TV consumption."

Grasso noted that with repeats on various News Corp. outlets, including Cielo, and availability on tablets and other mobile devices, the Italo show likely doubled its viewing numbers. Social media, such as Facebook, also helped widen the fanbase.

The thousands of early EP and singlesong sales on iTunes for music featured on "The X Factor" are much higher than in the past, especially for "Distratto" (Distracted), the original ballad belted out by 16-year-old Francesca Michielin, who won a recording contract with RCA Sony Music. …

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