Saturday, October 21, 2006

X Factor - Live Show Poll - Results Will Be Posted Here;

We're running a flash email poll tonight to try to gauge your reactions to tonight's live show, the results of which we'll publish here, before the results show as the data comes in. Don't bet the farm on our findings - we won't have time to filter the results - but it will be interesting to see what comes out vs the actual bottom 2.

Tonight's poll results - Frozen at the end of the results show;
Poor 4Sure (we like them - seem like really nice guys) came bottom of our "who is your favourite X Factor act overall" question - but the numbers were too small for us to have any conviction. We will pull all the stops next week to get a bigger sample size. We lost money last week backing the MacDonald brothers to go - but we backed them to stay this week lessening the pain. Wrapping themselves in the Scotish flag appears to be a working survival strategy...

Live X Factor winner prices here;

Gambling By Numbers

After much healthy debate regarding how to sensibly speculate as to who will be eliminated from tonight's show prior to hearing a note sung, we have been trying to develop a system that incorporates all the different variables that people feel are important.

We have the basis of such a system, but as always it is only as good as the assumptions that underly it. The assumptions that we are making in this case are as follows:

1. The acts begin the night ranked in terms of public popularity based on their current standing in the polls.

2. Each act has a prior probability of making a hash of their song.

3. Each act has a conditional probability that they find themselves in contention for the bottom two places in terms of number of public votes, assuming that they do make a hash of their song tonight.

4. An act that is less popular in the polls can avoid being in contention for the bottom two placings by not making a hash of their song, if and only if there exists an act more popular than them that does make a hash of their song, under the probabilities defined above.

5. For each possible pairing their is a probability that each act will be eliminated by the judges, given that they make the final two this evening.

Using these assumptions, we can run a simulation of what may happen tonight. In fact, we can run thousands of simulations as to what may happen tonight and observe what the relative frequency is of each act ending up getting the boot this evening.

Obviously we have run this model with our own interpretations of the probabilities required as inputs. However, I am reluctant to publish the results of this because it will most likely evoke discussions about our subjective inputs, rather than the effectiveness of the model itself. What I can say is that under our assumptions, the Mcdonald Brothers look like they have got alot of work to do to avoid being in the bottom two this evening.

If any readers would like to suggest inputs for the model, we can look for value in the betting markets accordingly.

Best, Statman

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Working with what we know.

The market for 2nd elimination is already open and The MacDonald Brothers and Dionne are favourites to go. How can anyone sensibly speculate as to who will leave this week without knowing how they will sing on the night?

Dionne and The Unconventionals combining to form the bottom two on Saturday night taught us two things: 1) An act relatively popular in the polls can find themselves in the bottom two by performing diabolically on the night (and subsequently exit), and 2) An act unpopular in the polls can perform well and still fail to attract votes, and hence attract the wrath of the judges.

When things appear uncertain, it is often rewarding to remind ourselves of certainties, because they can sometimes be overlooked. At the risk of stating the obvious, here are four of them:

Certainty #1

Firstly, we know for certain how the opinion polls have adjusted after last week’s show. To summarise, here is an update of the data posted last week. Only incremental votes post show have been included where possible, and as yet there is no data for (however, I have added a new internet poll, which is rather confusingly called Reality TV Polls.)

And in picture form, the above manifests itself as follows:

Certainties #2 and 3

We also know for certain that 2 of the remaining 11 contestants will come bottom and face the judges. Combine this with the certainty of knowing which contestants are in which judge’s group, then we can deduce, for each possible bottom pairing, which judge it will be to cast the deciding vote on Saturday night. (note – pairings from the same group will be marked as “open”)

Certainty #4

Our final certainty is how the judges received the contestants last time out. To quantify this, for each remark a judge made to a contestant, I have allocated a score of one to three. A score of one represents adulation, two represents less excited remarks, and three represents comments of a non-complementary nature (of which there were surprisingly few).

Putting together certainties 2,3 & 4 gives some clues as to how the deciding judge will vote assuming that the performances on Saturday night are on a par with those last week. For example, if the final two last week had been Ray and Dionne, who would have gone?

Well, the table above shows us that Louis would have had the deciding vote. Of Ray, Louis said “You’ve got a big smile and a great personality, but you’re gonna have to work hard on your voice.” Of Dionne (the very next act), Louis said “I think you’re the best act so far”. On the basis of these two comments a “Louis” score of 3 for Ray and 1 for Dionne has been allocated. And on that basis, if Ray and Dionne make up the bottom two on Saturday, assuming their performances are on a par with last week, then Ray should leave.

Many pairs are too close to call, and these have been left blank, but filling in the gaps that we can gives the following:

The two burning questions at this stage are – 1) How do we fill in the rest of the table above, and allocate likelihoods to each pairing finishing bottom? And 2) How do we adjust this for variance in the quality of performance in acts from last week?

These are two questions that I am going to spend the next couple of days pondering and attempt to answer before the weekend. A kind of “half-certainty” at this stage is that a contestant that performed well last week but badly this week will have more chance of survival than a repeat offender, and that for some contestants the likelihood of performing badly is greater than that of others. But we are now moving from a deterministic world of certainty into a stochastic one.

Suggestions (polite ones only please!) and discussion would be more than welcome!


Monday, October 16, 2006

The Results Of Our 2nd X Factor Survey - Your Live Show Reactions - Ben Gets Out From Behind The Keyboard!

Today we're releasing the results of our poll to gauge the public reaction to the first live show. The poll was conducted from Saturday evening to Sunday and was a 50/50 mix of our survey group responders and members of the public who have some interest in X Factor but have never responded to one of our surveys before. This is a follow-up to our earlier survey from before the live shows commenced, showing Ray as the early front runner.

We did not ask those who had not seen the live show (19.8%) any further questions.

Below is a strange response in that the perception was that Dionne had had a good show - but clearly lacked actual votes, ending up in the bottom 2. There are not enough enough responses (349) to get a really accurate fix on who should have gone - future surveys will be around 1000 responses and we'll have more to say about this.

Overall, we've seen a big swing to Ben - clearly stimulated by the reaction to his top-rated performance in the live show above. Kerry, Robert, Dionne, The MacDonald Brothers and 4Sure all look lke they are just a bad performance away from the dreaded (bottom 2).

We made an attempt to filter actual voters from the 486 responders....

Just The Declared Voters - The numbers of actual declared voters are small (70) and so much more likely to be inaccurate - take the below with a big pinch of salt.

Ben comes out better among this small group and worryingly the lovely Nikitta looks very vunerable (but the numbers at the unpopular end are too small to be meaningful).

So what are the betting conclusions we can draw from the data?

Clearly Ben (currently trading at 3s or 2-1) is a worthy favourite. He's perceived favourably for his performance on the live show and this bodes well to avoid the dreaded bottom 2 - but what else? Eton Road appear to have won themsleves some fans out there from their rendition of "My Girl". The show is likely to want to keep a group in the show until near the end at least so if Eton Road are the most popular group - their current price of 13s/12-1 looks appealing.

We would caution against backing the current favourites to leave next week - The MacDonald Brothers. There are a number of acts that look unpopular in the survey - The MacDonald's are far from alone in their unpopularity. However their performance last week lacked any spark and they still avoided the bottom 2 - they appear to have some loyal regional support - we think they may yet again see another week - the Rod Stewart theme for next week may even suit them.

The latest X Factor Elimination prices are here;
X Factor Winner prices are here;

Special Bets.