Bookmakers will be rubbing their hands as Rita Ora’s departure from the X Factor hot seat once again pushes the reality TV genre in front of millions of working class families who will one day become their bread and butter.
Switch on the news today.
What are the headlines that greet you?
Is it another nuclear threat from the North Koreans? Has another part of our beautiful world been bombed? Has someone hacked their wife’s head off and tried to flush it down the toilet?
Is your local rag running with the story that the X Factor is running dangerously low on judges after Rita Ora quit after only one year in the hot seat? That’s what I am reading as I drink my warm lemon water laced with turmeric.
The 25-year old singer and actress, from London, is leaving to focus on her music career and her role in the Fifty Shades of Grey sequel. Ora was the winning judge last season after she guided Louisa Johnson to victory. Her decision to quit leaves Simon Cowell as the only remaining 2015 judge after BBC1 Radio Presenter Nick Grimshaw and the smoking hot Cheryl Ann Fernandez-Versini (aka Chery Tweedy, aka Cheryl Cole, could be aka Cheryl Payne) both left earlier this year.
I like ogling at photo’s of Cheryl Ann whatshername but there is a professional angle to my interest in the show. Ora’s decision to leave is big business for the gambling industry, and here’s why?
Is Reality TV is Gambling’s Gateway Drug?
At the peak of its powers circa 2010 ITV’s X Factor was pulling in 14 million viewers. I don’t own a television today. However, back in the day, I was an avid X Factor fan. A Saturday evening curled up on the couch, eating take away, and crying my eyes out as I watched stars being born, was heavenly.
And why was I crying my eyes out?
I was born and raised on a council estate in Reddish, Stockport. One of four children, I was the type of kid who had nuts and an apple in my stocking at Christmas. I am a working class lad and for as long as I can remember I have had a working class attitude.
I am an underdog, and I gravitate towards underdogs. I can feel their fight. I can feel their self-loathing. I can feel their desire to prove people wrong. Shows like the X Factor create the most amazing platforms to make working class people’s dreams come true. That’s why I love it.
Gambling had strong roots in working class behaviour. It’s right up there with a pint of ale as a way of letting your hair down after 12 hours in the pit, factory, or whatever shit hole you had to bump and grind to put a roof over your families head.
And this is why the X Factor is important to the gambling industry. Of those 14 million viewers a majority of them will be the working class. They will be fans for life. The finals become as part of the Christmas festivities as Rudolph. And, of course, they will have a little flutter on the outcome.
The bookies understand this. They thrive on this. And when Rita Ora decides she is going to quit, or show off her stocking and suspenders when dancing in a club; or when Cheryl whatshername shacks up with a former contestant half her age, the show keeps hogging the headlines and the punters keep punting.
It’s Not Really Betting…Is It?
I liken the reality TV bettors to the lottery bettors. The people who don’t see what they are doing as gambling. Instead, it’s a harmless bit of fun that all of their friends partake in. It’s a family thing like the annual horse bet on the Grand National. Barriers break. Taboos don’t exist.
Reality TV shows are like gateway drugs for betting companies. Gambling is fun. 14 million people? Now that’s a lot of fat juicy lips waiting to get snagged. One minute you are betting on Louisa Johnson to win the X Factor, and the next minute you are having a little flutter on the FA Cup Final while you are there.
The markets have widened over the years. You can bet on the winner, but there are weekly elimination markets. The betting exchanges also open up the opportunity for punter to compete against punter, and there are some people making serious money from this game alongside the millions of households who are having a flutter to increase the level of interest in their Saturday night entertainment.
Before I threw in the towel, I used to make a decent profit from betting on Reality TV shows. Contestants like Jedward, Chico, and Wagner were profitable bets for me because while it was evident, they were terrible, they were stealing the tabloid headlines, drumming up the underdog story every week, and Cowell and co would do everything in their power to keep them involved to drive ratings.
And those dreams?
They do come true.
In 2010, when 14 million peeps were tuning in each weekend, Niall Horan, Harry Styles, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson, and Zayn Malik, all failed to make it through to the finals. Then in a stroke of genius, Simon Cowell pulled them together and suggested they create a group because that particular category was soft that year.
One Direction was born.
Today, it’s estimated the band went on to make over £100 million as a group, and 22-year old Payne, is spending his nights rolling around in the hay with Cheryl whatsername, and I would have never have bet on that.