TV talent shows losing their shine

By Huang Cheng-yin, Yan Hsin-yu and Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporters, with Staff writer

Sun, Dec 09, 2012 - Page 3

After the first season of the reality television singing competition Million Star (超級星光大道) achieved record-high audience ratings in 2007, the nation’s television audiences have seen an influx of reality talent shows seeking to show off the nation’s talents.

However, audiences appear to have gradually lost their appetite for such shows.

Chinese Television System (CTS) is reportedly planning to transform its flagship Sunday variety show, Power Sunday (Power星期天), into a reality talent show featuring magicians, raising the number of talent shows from seven to nine after the second season of the imitation contest Super Copy King (超級模王大道) begins airing in the near future.

Taiwan Television Enterprise (TTV) currently broadcasts two talent shows, One in a Million (百萬大明星) and Super Idol (超級偶像).

China Television Company (CTV) broadcasts three reality-based talent shows, including Super Copy King, singing contest Chinese Million Star (華人星光大道) — the successor of Million Star — and magician-centered talent show Ta Jen Tsung Tung Yuan (達人總動員).

Super Star (明日之星) is a talent show shown by Formosa Television (FTV), in which singing hopefuls perform either Chinese or Taiwanese songs to compete for NT$1 million (US$33,700) in cash. Chao Chi Hung Jen Pang (超級紅人榜), which is shown by SET-TV, is similar to Super Star.

In addition to Power Sunday, CTS also broadcasts Asian Idol Group Competition (亞洲天團爭霸戰), a group talent show that features both dancing and singing.

Commenting on the plethora of talent shows, Super Idol producer Chen Chun-liang (陳俊良) said reality talent shows have become a global trend and that despite the large number of shows, most talent programs aired in Taiwan still yield decent audience ratings because of their unexpected reality moments.

However, the production costs for a talent show are high, Chen said, adding that the cost of producing a talent show can be double that of an ordinary variety show and five times that of a talk show.

Although the first season of Million Star garnered as much as 7 percent of the total audience share at its peak and brought meteoric fame to participants Jam Hsiao (蕭敬騰), Yoga Lin (林宥嘉) and Aska Yang (楊宗緯), the show’s popularity has steadily decreased over time, especially after the seventh season in 2010.

In light of its dismal viewer ratings, the show’s producers in June last year decided to expand its contestant base to include singing enthusiasts from other countries such as Malaysia, Singapore and the US.

Its title was changed into Chinese Million Star.

After the transformation, the show started to fare slightly better and it last week recorded a rating of 2.69 percent for one of its second-season episodes.

However, these figures are still low compared with the figures recorded in previous seasons.

According to observers, television stations see reality talent shows as a security card, because the idea of a “nobody” transforming into a professional singer and all the surprising twists that are involved in the process is popular with television audiences.

However, with more competitors eager to share the market, repetition has begun to bore viewers, observers said.

Unless these shows adjust their format and find ways to distinguish themselves from other shows, they risk losing audiences’ interest, observers added .

Learning from the fall of Million Star, producer of the five-year-old show Super Idol has sought to find new gimmicks to keep the public interested, such as inviting big-name singers to join the show’s judging panel.

The production team of Super Star also adopted an innovative selection mechanism called the “Athletes’ Village.”

Contestants who pass the pre-selection stage and the semi-final would be put together for a series of vocal training sessions. Only a select few are selected to join the competition and battle for the crown.

While other programs are working to stay relevant in the cutthroat television industry, Asian Idol Group Competition’s stringent contest regulations to only accept groups of performers has seen its ratings fall. As a result, it might be canceled after the second season.

Additional reporting by Tseng Te-jung