As we enter November, spare a thought for the millions of Christmas trees that are about to be slaughtered, and turkeys which are set to follow. In between the warm and bustling holidays will be many cold, short days with people huddled in their living rooms anticipating those delicious turkey dinners – and passing more than a little time with mindless TV as the temperatures drop.
TV companies are well aware of this syndrome as are bookmakers who ramp up their own winter boom season with novelty betting markets offered on the celebrity gameshows the broadcasters air during the build-up to Christmas time.
Week-on-week and in some cases day-on-day, instalments of shows such as X-Factor, Strictly Come Dancing and I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here hypnotise a viewing public. Ballroom dancing, singing talent shows and celebrities eating questionable kangaroo parts in the jungle may not be high art, but they are certainly entertaining during the long winter stretch.
Entertainment or not, they are all competitions and they all ultimately provide a winner. That’s enough for any UK facing bookmaker to get their odds compilers to work and their PR machinery aimed at the type of people who would not normally place a bet prompted into action.
The X-Factor, which began its twelfth season in 2015, is probably the most popular show of the trio as it appeals to a far younger audience than its chief rival, Strictly Come Dancing.
Now, as a punter, it is very easy to become too involved in the show and let your opinion lead the way. In other words, most casual punters end up embracing a contestant and simply place their much-needed Christmas cash on who they like.
That is not the way to tackle the conundrum of who will win. Tastes differ, opinions differ and it is only the consensus opinion of the people who pick up their telephones or iPads and place votes that count.
Unsurprisingly, like bookmakers making the connection, so have telecommunications companies. To date all 12 series of X-Factor have been sponsored by a telephone company.
Unquestionably, their liquidity on X-Factor is good but they clearly reflect how fickle the type of person that bets in this field is. A contestant draped with praise one week will see their price shrink dramatically. A poor performance a week later and their odds lengthen alarmingly.
For the serious punter, this volatility presents excellent opportunities. But where should you look for the winner? Well, a trawl through the record books does not offer that much of an insight.
It has to be said: Of the eleven series of X-Factor, seven have been won by male contestants. Three times a woman has prevailed and a group act just once. Male acts have also achieved considerably more runner-up positions than any other category.
Beyond that, pinpointing a winner is very difficult. However, from a punting viewpoint, is the quest all about finding a winner? The answer is no. Normally there are 20 markets running concurrently on matters such as ‘winning mentor’, ‘winning category’, ‘next act eliminated’ and ‘to reach the final show’.
This is where mistakes are made by the online sportsbooks. A contestant who is 250/1 to win the show can quickly find themselves priced-up at even-money to be the next act eliminated.
Even if a contestant cannot sing or perform by any objective standard, the public may enjoy the charisma that person brings. We also know that the judges, headed by Simon Cowell, make the final decision on who stays or goes on this show. Likewise, producers understand that controversy is a virtue. Controversy is good for viewing figures, and for that reason bad acts often stay in the competition a lot longer than they should.
These are the type of angles you should be factoring into your betting strategy.
Best Bookmakers for TV/Entertainment Props
Strictly Come Dancing
Just like the X-Factor, novelty acts never win Strictly Come Dancing although, for entertainment value, one engaging celebrity always mysteriously lingers far longer than their talent should allow.
Here younger contestants seem to fare well. Only two of the last eight winners have been aged 30+ and it’s noteworthy that early favourites have regularly been eliminated before the final.
But, such is the viewing demographic, Strictly Come Dancing’s betting turnover is far less than its Saturday/Sunday night live TV counterpart (X-Factor) and this is reflected in just a few betting markets being on offer.
But, the gold standard in light entertainment is I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. This car-crash TV show which has been licenced to numerous countries is the best betting medium of all the celebrity TV shows. In the UK alone, it averages a viewership in excess of 10 million people.
Lasting a little over three weeks and featuring 12 contestants, all bookmakers clamber over themselves to be the first to offer prices on contestants and earn some related press coverage.
Paddy Power and leading entertainment betting sites can and do make some glaring mistakes. For example, they almost always fall into the trap of making the best known celebrity the betting favourite.
So, the form summary is this:
Five of the 14 previous winners have been pop stars (or enjoyed a brief spell of notoriety as a singer/performer).
- Ten of the previous winners have been male.
- Soap stars have a very poor record with just two previous winners.
- An actor has never won this show.
- There have been several American contestants and also former politicians. Neither genre has produced a winner.
- Londoner’s and people from Essex have won half of the 14 series.
- Do not fall into the trap of backing the best known celebrity at the outset.
- Avoid contestants aged between 35 and 45; they have desperate records.
- Do not back actors or soap stars.
- Do back Londoners and Essex folk; they have outstanding records.
- Do not back latecomers. Only support contestants that have been in the show since Day 1.
- Back a male contestant.
True to form prices are already available about the 2015 contestants despite there being no official announcement on the participants.
If the rumour mill is to be believed, Paddy Power’s 40/1 about 50 Cent has some appeal but William Hill’s 10/1 about 2012 X-Factor winner James Arthur should be picked up with haste. The latter, aged 27, ticks almost every box with the exception of hailing from the North East of England.