Television

FremantleMedia scores second series success with 'The X Factor'

MUMBAI: FremantleMedia Licensing Worldwide's (FLW) second series of The X Factor across multiple media platforms including wireless, internet, interactive TV, consumer products and events has seen tremendous success.

The show, which launched in August, was a massive ratings success for ITV and was voted the most popular entertainment programme of 2005 at the National Television Awards. It has also broken records in the UK for voting and Internet downloads.

Capitalising on the success of last year's branded wireless offerings, FLW licensed mobile phone video and non-video content directly to four leading mobile phone networks, Orange, T-Mobile, O2 and 3. These deals granted the networks a package of mobile content rights including video, games and branded wallpapers.

Additionally, FLW brokered a deal with ITV, which saw The X Factor as the first programme brand to be launched on ITV's Mobile Portal, allowing fans to receive news and to take part in competitions, games and quizzes.

The official The X Factor website (www.itv.com/xfactor) received an average 26,000 visitors per day, with over 2.4 million unique users visiting the site throughout the duration of the series. The website offered mobile phone downloads such as SMS and MMS news and gossip updates, an exclusively created Java game, betting provided by www.paddypower.com and a mobile phone video portal, which allowed viewers to access behind-the-scenes footage and to enter the 'Flex the X' competition.

The X Factor message board was the most popular ever associated with any programme that has aired on ITV with an average of 12,000 posts per week during the course of the live shows. Fans can still buy The X Factor merchandise, including branded apparel, mugs and keychains, from the online shop provided by Event Merchandising.

FLW also secured a deal with US based online karaoke company, kSolo, to launch www.thexfactorchallenge.co.uk. The website, which uses state of the art streaming and recording technology, allows fans to perform, record and playback renditions of a huge range of songs including those performed by The X Factor finalists and comment on registered public performances.

Fans were able to continue interacting with the show 24/7 via interactive TV applications on both Sky digital and NTL digital cable, including the chance to take part in live polls and text their opinions to screen on The Xtra Factor. More than one million entries were registered over the series for the chance to win weekly cash prizes and 'money can't buy' series prizes - a VIP make-over trip to London and a slice of Sharon Osbourne's lifestyle including a shopping trip to the South of France and a sports car.

And even though the second series has now finished, fans can still re-create and enjoy The X Factor experience in their own homes. The X Factor Sing interactive game (Lago Srl) launched on PlayStation 2 and PC in October, while branded karaoke software with a range of DVD and CD and Graphics (Sing To The World) and five karaoke hardware product lines (Acoustic Solutions) also launched last autumn.

The X Factor product ranges are available in retail outlets such as Comet, Tesco and Argos. Comet promoted The X Factor products in the run-up to Christmas by providing three branded bays in all 260 stores; Argos offered consumers the chance to win tickets to The X Factor Live Tour 2006 via in-pack promotions, the Argos website, which received three million visits per week in December, and via their December sales flyer.

Madame Tussauds, one of the world's leading visitor attractions, also hosted an interactive attraction in London based on the hit TV show. Fans were invited to take to the specially-created stage and participate in The X Factor experience for themselves in front of waxwork judges Simon Cowell, Sharon Osbourne and Louis Walsh and receive comments on their performance.

Close to 9.9 million people tuned in to see Shayne Ward walk away with a ?1 million Sony BMG recording contract. Over the course of the series, The X Factor rated the highest in its slot for the key commercial demographic (16 to 34 year-olds), winning a 54 per cent share, an incredible 125 per cent above ITV1's slot average; in total, the series was watched by 40 million people in the UK with a reach of 72 per cent. The Xtra Factor was the highest rated entertainment show on ITV2, beating the slot average by 85 per cent for all individuals.

A massive 10.8 million votes were cast during the live finale alone, with SMS, red button and fixed line voting services managed by specialist provider Harvest Media Group (HMG). The task of aggregating all of the vote feeds was effectively managed with HMG?s 'Dataconcentrator', which was introduced this year. Mobile Interactive Group's voting platform, 'Votewinner', smashed the high-speed SMS delivery record with over 1,300 messages processed per second.

FremantleMedia Licensing Worldwide vice president licensing UK Dom Wheeler said, "The second series of The X Factor has been an even bigger success than the first with more fans enjoying even more exciting and innovative ways and platforms to engage with the show. We are really delighted with the uptake of our offerings and the fans' incessant enthusiasm which has helped make the show an unmitigated success all round."

In an exclusive, first of its kind deal, FLW partnered with Syco Music and Sony BMG to make Shayne Ward's debut single, 'That's My Goal', available for download over the Internet on the night of The X Factor finale, three days before its retail release. The single, which topped the Christmas charts, was one of the biggest selling singles of 2005 with over one million copies shipped and has entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the fastest selling download in world history with over 100,000 downloads to date.

Nokia was the main on and off-air sponsor of The X Factor for a second consecutive year. A microsite - www.nokia.co.uk/xfactor, created especially by Nokia and linked to the official website, offered fans a host of additional interactive elements including a branded game, exclusive content, handset purchase and information and the chance to win official The X Factor handsets and tickets to the live shows.

Nokia is also sponsoring The X Factor Live Tour 2006, which will take place over 25 days in February and March across England, Scotland and Wales.

The X Factor is produced by Thames Television, one of the UK production companies owned by FremantleMedia and Syco for ITV.

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