Friday, December 15, 2006

X Factor: Leona vs Ray - The Final.

On the eve of the final of X Factor 3 we find Ray, a one time 200-1 outsider, charged with the task of over-turning the immense lead that Leona has commanded in the polls for nearly two months now.

Firstly, let's check in and see how the polls are looking for one last time:

No surprises there then. Leona registers 60% + in all polls barring the Internet Forum, which has a history of being pro-Ray verses the overall landscape.

However, If someone who had never seen the X Factor, the polls, or the current markets, were to do some brief internet research into the contest, they would find countless pro-Ray discussions on internet forums pointing to the superior "all-round entertainer" credentials of Ray, his advantage with the female demographic both young and old, the advantage of his "underdog" status, his more likeable personality, his advantage in singing second on the night, and his physical profile fitting the description of an X Factor winner.

They would read comparisons of Ray's plight with that of a certain Matt Willis who in a recent Reality TV series had consistently lacked support in the polls, yet against the odds managed to triumph over the series favourites. They would read about the substantial influx of viewers switching on the programme for the first time and introducing voting behaviour that current polls fail to pick up, and they would read about the support base of the recently eliminated semi-finalist Ben being more likely to vote for Ray over his old adversary Leona. They would read newspaper articles quoting bookmakers about six figure sums being wagered on Ray. They would read about how close last week's vote was, and how Simon Cowell was quoted this week as saying "There were only 1000 votes between them".

They would find very little, almost an uncanny silence, written about his opponent.

They would be forgiven for coming to the conclusion that Ray should be favourite to win tomorrow night's final.

But he is not. And he shouldn't be.

Some of the above points are valid, some of them are not. All of them are non-measurable at this stage, and contain some level of subjectivity. Indeed, some of the above points could be seen to benefit Leona, however observers who think this most likely feel they don't have to shout quite as loudly as the pro-Ray observers do.

We know from first hand experience that finals tend to be harder to call than weekly shows, due to the intensity of the swings that can occur on the final night. Could Ray win? Of course he could. Is he more likely to win than Leona? Probably not at this stage.

Bearing all of this in mind, we view the markets to be correctly positioned right now by implying a 70% chance of Leona coming through, and 30% chance of Ray winning. With no value, it's difficult to take any action.

Our advice is, if not done already, to level up the books which should be a healthy shade of green if the polls have been followed correctly so far, sit back and enjoy the show.

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