Britney Spears’ biggest pop hits may be behind her, but she’s still a major star, and that’s just what Simon Cowell was counting on when he brought her on as a judge for the second season of The X Factor.
There’s no question that Spears, 30, was a big attraction during the show’s two-hour premiere Wednesday night — she was the last of the four judges to walk out on stage, and to more screaming and cheering than any of the others got. But the numbers don’t lie: Britney still lost out to her pop rival Christina Aguilera in the ratings.
According to preliminary Nielsen ratings Aguilera’s show, The Voice, scored roughly 10.7 million viewers Wednesday, while The X Factor got only about 8.5 million. Those numbers certainly aren’t terrible by any means; they’re actually pretty darn good. And the show helped Fox win the night overall in terms of the key 18-49 age demographic.
But it’s not the best sign when the addition of Britney and fellow new judge Demi Lovato couldn’t even lift the new X Factor to the level of its premiere last year, when it got about 3.5 million more viewers as a brand-new, unproven show. Then again, there was probably a lot of curiosity last year to see what Simon Cowell’s new show after American Idol was like. It’s still too early to tell how X Factor will fare, and maybe Britney and Demi will grow into their roles as judges and gain a bigger following for the show.
Still, The Voice is a major, bona fide hit for NBC and will probably be tough competition for the struggling X Factor throughout the season. It could just push the latter show to step up its game even more. Everyone always knew Christina had a better singing voice than Britney. Will her Voice remain better too?
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