X Factor 2015 slashes number of live shows – but what does that mean for the finals?

It looks like we can expect double eliminations and maybe even four contestants in the final as X Factor runs with seven instead of ten live studio shows

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This year’s X Factor looks set to include double eliminations and perhaps even four contestants in the final as ITV reveals a schedule with seven rather than ten weekends of live shows. 

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The broadcaster has already released its full timings for this year’s series in a bid to avoid crossover with the BBC’s rival Saturday night entertainment show Strictly Come Dancing. How they’ll respond remains to be seen. To clash or not to clash, as it were. But it also tells us something about the possible set-up of this year’s live X Factor shows, which won’t kick off until 31st October – a full three weeks later than last year.

Take Wild Cards, for example. It seems unlikely we’ll get those this year. With just seven weekends dedicated to the live elimination shows, it would be a lot to expect the judges to start with four contestants each. Even with three each, the shorter time scale would suggest that a couple of acts will need to be booted out at the same time (otherwise we’d be left with a very crowded final). Cowell did it on Halloween weekend last year, so perhaps a fittingly terrifying double elimination for week one is in store?

Even with one double elimination, though, we could still be looking at four acts in the final stages of the competition – instead of the three we’ve seen in recent years – something that’s not happened since the much-discussed ‘vintage’ 2010 series. Yes, the one where they found One Direction. 

Of course nothing can be ruled out (or in) for sure at this stage. Show bosses have plenty of new hurdles to get over before we reach the live shows, including having the public decide which categories the judges will get via Twitter. And while there are fewer live studio episodes, there’s still the somewhat mammoth task of making Judges’ Houses a live broadcast. No wonder they want to get those scheduling issues over with from the start, right?

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The X Factor starts this Saturday at 8:00pm on ITV