LONDON - ITV's weekend episodes of Simon Cowell singing competition The X Factor drew a slew of complaints with a format tweak that some viewers compared to the battle to death that the protagonists of the Hunger Games book and film franchise have to endure.
The Guardian reported that regulator Ofcom and ITV had received a total of 80 complaints as of early this week.
In the new "musical chairs" round of the show, contestants hope to secure a seat on stage to confirm they can advance to the "boot camp" stage of the competition.
Members of the live audience chanted "seat, seat, seat" for performers they liked or "swap, swap, swap" if they wanted them replaced by one of the four judges, including Gary Barlow and Sharon Osbourne.
The format change on the Simon Cowell show meant that some contestants looked to have made it through to the "boot camp" stage of the show - only to be dropped at the last minute. The weekend shows aired live from Wembley Arena.
One singer who was affected was left in tears as she was replaced by another contestant, the Guardian said.
Singer Lily Allen was among viewers who complained on Twitter that the tweak meant the show had turned "fully mean."
Some viewers compared the show's feel to that of The Hunger Games and a "blood sport," according to the paper.
"The new boot camp twist brings genuine jeopardy to the competition and is just one of the ways the series has evolved this year," an ITV spokeswoman said. "All contestants were briefed in advance on the new format, and as with all stages of the competition, support was available for everyone before and after their performances."
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