Ratings hopes for X Factor final
ITV bosses will be keeping their fingers crossed for a ratings boost with The X Factor final after audiences took a huge tumble this year.
The change of judging panel and a line-up of performers which many critics thought was lacklustre have seemingly conspired to cause viewers to plummet.
Last Saturday's semi-final saw the average audience more than three million down on 2010, while the peak audience was four million fewer.
The higher stakes of a spectacular final - plus performances from stars such as Coldplay, Leona Lewis and One Direction - could go some way to bring the show on track at the weekend.
But it will have to go some to beat last year's final ratings with an average 14 million watching the Saturday show and 17.2 million watching the Sunday finale (peaking at 19.4 million).
In contrast, last weekend's two shows drew audiences of 10.6 million and 11.9 million.
Although still respectable in terms of terrestrial ratings, those figures will be seen as a disappointment.
For many years the show seemed unstoppable, getting bigger each year, and building throughout each series.
But 2011 has seen the average audience barely budge on Saturday nights, hovering around the 10.5 million mark.
Sundays have fared better with the added drama of a sing-off and a big name act.
But the Saturday night woes have been exacerbated by a swell of support for BBC1 rival Strictly Come Dancing, which has had a resurgence this year.
Strictly has beaten X Factor not only when they overlapped on occasion, but also outright in some weeks as the ITV1 show stalled.
Even the show's spats and scandals, which included a bust-up between judges Tulisa Contostavlos and Kelly Rowland, as well as the axing of contestant Frankie Cocozza for boasting about his drug use have not delivered extra viewers.