I’ll start this by saying no, The Four Season 3 hasn’t been announced yet. But considering recent comments from Fox execs and plans in place to produce a British version, it seems likely that it will be back. That being said, The Four has struggled so far when it comes to TV viewership. While the ratings have gotten better over the course of its two-season run, they’re still not great. So we’re going to take a look at the show’s great strengths as it is currently and how it could improve ratings for what we hope will be The Four Season 3.
Let’s get into where the show is at. First of all, it’s worth noting that The Four is the most popular singing competition on social media. #TheFour was trending #1 on Twitter during most of its episodes airing, The Four artists generally gain far more followers on Instagram than acts on other shows, and the show’s YouTube channel has over 500,000 subscribers. It has captured the interest of the young and cool audience. This is a huge strength of The Four! In two seasons, they’ve been able to win eyes on digital that other shows took much longer to build. Between the new challengers, intense battles, and entertaining judges, there’s something noteworthy happening every episode.
Second, after only one season, The Four has already propelled an unknown talent to fame. Fan favorite Zhavia signed a multi-million-dollar deal with Columbia Records and has amassed over 3 million followers, something other singing shows haven’t been able to do in recent years. The Voice in particular has struggled in this area. The fact that The Four has followed up on its promises is huge! You can’t call your show The Battle for Stardom if it doesn’t make stars after all.
On the other end though, The Four has had the lowest ratings compared to other talent shows by far. Idol and The Voice average somewhere between 7-10 million viewers in the 18-49 demographic. And AGT tops both of those! The Four, however, hovers right around only 2.5-3 million viewers. Digital may be the future, but you still need the advertising money to pay judges, run the production, make money, etc. And yes, making stars on the show is big, but if no one is tuning in, it won’t get renewed.
Now that we’ve broken down The Four’s current situation, I’m going to share some ideas for how the show can beef up its ratings in a third season.
1. Let the Public Vote!
This is the biggest factor in my opinion. As it is, there’s no incentive for tuning in to The Four live. Why watch on Thursday nights when there’s no urgency to watch and react? You can just as easily see clipsa day or two or three later online and the result will be the same. There’s no reason to buy songs on iTunes either, which is a huge missed opportunity.
The fact that the audience and judges make every decision is honestly pretty crazy. The Voice implemented the Instant Save in season five, forcing viewers to tune in live to save their favorites. American Idol took this to the next level this past season, making all voting up until the finale happen live during the show. If you want people to watch, give them a reason to watch! The audience at home is incentivized to tune in live if they can vote and affect the outcome. Whether that is live voting throughout the season, or just voting in the Comeback and Finale episodes, it needs to happen at some point.
2. Compete for Country Fans
The Four has positioned itself as a show that highlights diverse talent. In the first two seasons, that has included numerous rappers, Spanish vocalists, powerhouses of pop, smooth R&B singers, and rockers. One thing that it hasn’t included are country artists. I’m sure this is an intentional move, but it is hurting the ratings. In a recent poll by CBS, Americans were asked what their favorite genre of music is. Country music came in at #1 with 21%, while rock followed in second at 18%, and pop rounded out the top three with 14%. Country and rock fans also tend to be very loyal and reliable television viewers. The show was successful in bringing in Jesse Kramer this past season. He was a rocker and definitely did his own thing but it worked! While none of his challengers were really rockers, the apples-to-oranges comparison was interesting to see play out.
But the main question is, how do you add country music into the equation without taking away the identity of The Four? You run the risk of a few things happening here. Mainly, you don’t necessarily want to have four different genres in the four seats every week. How it is formatted now, some weeks are more hip-hop or R&B/soul heavy and other weeks are more pop heavy. If they try to control too much, it could turn into a one country chair, one rock chair, one rap chair, etc. situation. This basically happened the past season with Sharaya J. Almost every challenger she had was another rapper. Bottom line: For The Four Season 3, I would love to see even more diversity in genres competing against each other!
3. Add a Fourth Judge
The Four started with four judges but…well, you know what happened. Adding a fourth judge would be great for the show, especially if they want to bring in some country influence. But the show would have an interesting balancing act to perform. They don’t want someone too polarizing or too “country” that people feel like the show is losing its identity. They also want to stay youthful and appeal to their younger crowd. While adding a country icon like Dolly Parton, Shania Twain, or Miranda Lambert would be entertaining, they don’t exact fit the tone of the show. And I doubt The Four would have the budget for that.
Some of my top contenders would be Kacey Musgraves, who is a young country artist but has opened for Katy Perry on her tour before; Maren Morris, who was recently featured in Zedd’s “The Middle” and has a lot of crossover appeal; or Cam, who began as a songwriter for artists like Miley Cyrus and paved her own path to stardom. If they want to follow in The Voice’s footsteps, The Four could swipe someone from Idol, like Lauren Alaina.
If they want to go back to a having a producer/music executive on the panel, Scott Borchetta of Big Machine Records discovered Taylor Swift and has experience on talent shows, after advising on two seasons of American Idol. Jeff Bhasker (also known as Billy Kraven and U.G.L.Y.) could be another viable option. He has collaborated with and produced for Bruno Mars, Kanye West, Fun., Jay-Z, Harry Styles, and (most importantly for this particular topic) Cam and Keith Urban. Kelly Clarkson’s husband Brandon Blackstock would also be a great choice, as he was formerly Rascal Flatts’ tour manager and now manages talent from Blake Shelton to Kelly Clarkson herself. Plus, he’s Reba McEntire’s stepson!
4. Make the Original Four Great Again
A big improvement from the first season to the second was making the talent in the original four seated members more competitive. In the first season, none of the original members of The Four made it past the first two weeks. In the second season, the last two standing were both original members. This is important for The Four because while some seats may rotate week-to-week, viewers need consistency. Adding on two extra episodes this past season was also necessary. The more times singers perform on the show and the longer it lasts, the more people feel connected to them. In season two, we got to walk through Sharaya J’s battle with cancer as it happened. And James Graham one-upping himself week after week became a reason to watch.
Another strength of The Four that can be more fully utilized is the fact that the number of contestants each season is much lower than other talent shows. The Voice has 48 contestants each season, plus ones who don’t turn a chair, and American Idol starts with even more auditions. It can honestly be hard to keep up! But The Four only introduces 4-6 new singers each week and they’re competing against artists you’re already familiar with.
5. Follow Through on Promises
This really is the last (and most important) piece of the puzzle, following through on promises. The Four is The Battle for Stardom! How they build up the winners after the show ends will make a big difference. When you win The Four, you get to work with Diddy, who knows how to promote music. He just has to follow through! If Evvie McKinney and James Graham can’t be at least as famous as Ciroc, we’ve got a problem.
iHeartRadio and Republic Records also have a lot to do with this. The Four partnered with iHeartRadio to automatically name the winner of each season one of their “On the Verge” artists. This means they get to be recognized and get airplay on iHeartRadio stations. iHeartRadio has the biggest platform to make or break a star because they control what plays on most of the biggest radio stations. Yet months after the crowning of the first season winner, Evvie McKinney is not on their “On the Verge Artist” list, nor has her debut single gotten much airplay. (To be honest, I understand that part because it’s not a great song but still, a promise is a promise.) For the record, James Graham isn’t on that list either.
The Four did bring both Evvie and Zhavia onto the show to debut their first singles though! And Zhavia was featured on the “Deadpool 2” soundtrack with Diplo, French Montana, and Lil Pump so that’s huge! Unfortunately though, she wasn’t the winner. And she was signed to Columbia, not Republic Records. So they’ve still got some work to do when it comes to Evvie.
These are our suggestions for The Four Season 3, take it or leave it. What do you think the show can do better in the next season?