MediaWorks' decision to fire X Factor NZ judges husband and wife duo Natalia Kills and Willy Moon, after their scathing comments towards contestant Joe Irvine, has had a positive impact on the show's rating, lifting viewership by 100,000 sets of eyes.
According to Nielsen, viewer ratings for the past four episodes were sitting between 144,000 and 161,000 in the 25 to 54 age bracket. But last night’s episode’s viewers increased significantly, with 249,000 viewers tuning in compared to 145,000 viewers the night before.
The rise in viewership numbers are not surprising. Everyone wanted to tune in to see the aftermath of the judges’ controversial comments and whether the show would make mention of Willy Moon and Natalia Kills. Especially after a massive backlash over social media, through which bounced around a petition to boot the two off the show, which was over 70,000 signatures strong at the time of writing.
It was near impossible to scroll through Facebook and Twitter newsfeeds yesterday without coming across the faces of Moon and Kills, as a barrage of infuriated New Zealanders (including Hilary Barry) showed their dismay through heated commentary. However, in saying that, there were also a few commenters who didn’t know who the two celebrities even were (there have also been a few humorous updates to Moon's Wikipedia page).
Someone doctored Willy Moon's Wikipedia entry. lolz. pic.twitter.com/Z9RG1x1zcG— Hazel Phillips (@hazelphilli) March 17, 2015
According to Stuff, Natalia Kills began her career as a child actor in the UK in the mid 90s, but eventually shifted to the music industry, releasing a single under the name Verbalicious in 2005. Since then she’s changed her name and released album Perfectionist in 2011 where she saw minor success in Europe but failed to chart in the US or the UK. Her second album Trouble was released in 2013 but did not attract chart success. Meanwhile, New Zealander Willy Moon's career has included a minor hit 2012 with the single 'Yeah Yeah,' which was used in an Apple iPod television commercial.
That was somehow enough to get the two as judges on the show where they attempted to channel the notoriously harsh but fair (mostly) formula pioneered by Simon Cowell back in the early days of American Idol.
The duo took it a little too far though, to put it lightly, as Kills spat out a semi-rehearsed-sounding dialogue, rife with gratuitous language, which lacked the emotional resonance of true opinion, saying to contestant Joe Irvine:
"As an artist who respects creative integrity and intellectual property, I am disgusted at how much you've copied my husband," Kills began. "From the hair to the suit, do you not have any value or respect for originality? You're a laughing stock. It's cheesy, it's disgusting. I personally found it absolutely artistically atrocious. I am embarrassed to be sitting here in your presence even having to dignify you with an answer of my opinion."
Then her husband Willy Moon (who invented the suit) chimed in, "It's like [Psycho character] Norman Bates dressing up in his mother's clothing. It's just a little bit creepy, and I feel like you're going to stitch someone's skin to your face and then kill everybody in the audience."
According to Stuff, In a statement to TV3 on Monday afternoon, MediaWorks chief executive Mark Weldon said the pair were no longer suitable for the role.
"Last night on X Factor both Kills and Moon made comments that were completely unacceptable. While the judges on X Factor are expected to provide critiques of the performances, we will not tolerate such destructive tirades from any of the judges," he said.
While these two have failed miserably at the love-to-hate TV personality style, it has worked for other MediaWorks television personalities, for example, Paul Henry, who it could be argued has made even worse comments, yet still remains with the network.
MediaWorks also landed itself in hot water earlier in the show’s running in February when Donna Travers complained to TV3 after Shae Brider, convicted over the killing of her son Jeremy Frews, featured on an episode of the show, making it through the bootcamp round, according to the Herald.
In the aftermath of this situation, the show's ratings dropped to its lowest for the season thus far, with viewers turning away on account of the show distorting the truth by only telling one side of the story.
At the time, Stuff reported that the Sunday night audience dropped by more than 100,000 viewers from Tuesday. And, when compared to the Sunday night show a week earlier, the ratings also showed a drop of 51,890.
As well as this blunder, one of the romantic hopefuls on MediaWorks' series The Bachelor NZ, Danielle Le Gallais, was sentenced to 18 months jail for stealing almost $400,000 from her employer.
TV3 spokesperson Rachel Lorimer said the station was not aware of the offending and the production company responsible for vetting contestants had failed to check Le Gallais' background.
Last year, MediaWorks' in-house legal counsel and company secretary Claire Bradley left the company, which could potentially provide a reason for some of the missteps in recent programming. However, that being said, it's unlikely that an in-house legal counsel would've been able to stop these errors, given that, as Lorimer explains, vetting responsibilities lie with the production companies involved with the shows.