EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


March 31, 2013

Tune-up for talent shows

How to make TV's popular competitions more enjoyable for viewers, rewarding for winners

If you’ve managed to keep up with the array of singing competitions on the air without succumbing to exhaustion, kudos. With “American Idol,” “The Voice,” “The X Factor,” “America’s Got Talent,” “Duets” and more, there’s no shortage of series vying for ratings and votes for their would-be superstars.

With revamped seasons of “The Voice” (Usher and Shakira are subbing for Cee Lo Green and Christina Aguilera) and “Idol” underway (expect a reboot for “The X Factor” this fall following the departure of half of its judges), it prompts a question: Is changing the celebrity cast enough to revitalize these shows?

Our vote is no. But fear not, we’ve come up with some quick fixes that could make the most popular franchises — “American Idol,” “The Voice,” “The X Factor” — more enjoyable for viewers at home. And maybe even push winners toward stronger, more relevant careers once the show ends.

Sweeten the prize

These franchises love to tout their rewards, be it a $5-million cash prize or a record contract. But in a time when indie acts are making big splashes in the industry with innovative DIY methods, it’s time for shows to up the ante and offer prizes that justify being on-air for up to six hours a week.

As “X Factor” and “The Voice” have already proved, scoring a deal doesn’t translate to success.

How about a prize package that includes an opening slot for one of the show’s superstar judges on tour? Or a lucrative publishing deal? Or even A-list representation?

Focus less on the judges

We get it, tapping Mariah Carey, Keith Urban, Steven Tyler, Nicki Minaj, Usher, Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez or Shakira adds credibility and star power. However, once the show fires up, let’s pull back on the star adoration and try to focus on the contestants.

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