At some point over the last decade's long slog of Pop Idols, Britain's Got Talents, Fame Academies and nine series of X Factor, the emphasis switched from light entertainment to record sales.
Watching recent series of X Factor, it's occasionally felt like we were watching a meeting between record execs rather than a glossy family TV spectacle. The fearsome annihilation of cruise ship warbler Christopher Maloney by the producers and judges felt like a tipping point in the show's history as the singer's crime of being 'not very cool' seemed to excuse no-holds barred treatment of the blubbering Liverpudlian.
When the voting results were revealed, it turned out that Maloney had been topping the votes since week one. Despite a hammering from the judges and all the cool credentials of tattooed grumble-guts James Arthur, note-perfect pint-sized pop of Ella Henderson and Jahmene Douglas and best efforts of One Direction-lite boybands, viewers at home actually preferred a man with a terrible tan belting out cheesy hits from the '80s.
And why shouldn't they? People watch TV talent shows for a bit of throwaway fun, not because they're desperate to throw their cash away on follow-up albums and Simon Cowell's bank balance.
Like all good TV, when they work well talent shows create gripping drama and you find yourself rooting for a person or a team. But when the lights go up at the end of a series and Dermot O'Leary's done his final twirl, do we really care what happens to any of the contestants? Personally, I couldn't give a hoot.
If I watch Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? I might find myself supporting the contestant to get the right answer, but I find it easy to live with the fact that I'll never see how they spend their £64,000 winnings or how it changes their lives getting that new extension fitted.
I don't need to see how the Smith family's holiday went after triumphing on Family Fortunes and it doesn't bother me what happened to Rachel Rice after winning Big Brother 9.
This is the reason that 99% of TV talent show acts either totally bomb or slowly drift into Z-list oblivion. A year on from The X Factor, the 10 million viewers who tuned in every week aren't waiting on tenterhooks to hear old contestants singing their own songs.
They'd rather watch 12 new people being thrust through the ITV factory and covering Whitney ballads on a Saturday night.
Watch will.i.am and Tom Jones talk about creating a superstar
A superstar isn't created with a phone-vote and Louis Walsh clapping like a seal in approval. Superstars are created over years and years, following album after album. TV shows can make people famous. They don't make them successful. And thank God for that, otherwise, we'd have hundreds of former Big Brother, X Factor and Voice contestants still hanging around expecting us to give a crap.
I'm not suggesting that a TV show can't help boost people along the way. Simon Cowell and co have clearly realised what a profitable launch pad a primetime telly show can be for acts such as One Direction.
Being on Saturday night telly for 16 weeks helps a record company cut out a slog of schools tours and regional radio and the hefty expenditure that such a campaign entails.
But it's not Niall's performance in Disco week, Harry's first audition or Louis's dancing on the first live show that generated One Direction-mania around the world. A combination of hard work, lovely shaggy hair, a couple of belting pop songs and some nifty marketing were the real key to that.
And importantly, One Direction didn't even come first or second on The X Factor. TV viewers weren't particularly fussed about them, they never did very well in the public vote and they were easily beaten by an earnest painter and decorator called Matt Cardle.
Is it a problem that Matt Cardle won? Or course not. He's a good singer and a nice bloke. This is Saturday night TV and the prize is always awarded to the contestant who the most amount of people dislike the least. Hence Steve Brookstein, Joe McElderry, Leona, Alexandra and on last year's The Voice, Leanne Mitchell.
Does it make a difference to The X Factor that Matt and Joe's careers didn't soar? Not at all. Does it matter than Leona's record sales are slowly drifting lower and lower? Only if you're a hardcore fan. Does it matter if Leanne Mitchell's name is barely remembered outside her own bedroom? Not in the slightest.
Some people argue that shows need success stories to keep people auditioning year after year. What a load of phoeey. Firstly, you're never going to be short of Waissels, Rylans, Jedwards and Wagners looking for their 15 minutes of fame. And secondly, there is still money made, careers developed and lives changed, even if it doesn't involve soaring up the charts. Is Leanne Mitchell a superstar? Of course not. Is she much better off than she was last year? Hell yeah.
The disappearance of Top of the Pops and desperate financial state of the music industry means shows such as The X Factor and The Voice are now considered the pop musical barometer. The shows are as keenly followed by music critics as they are TV ones.
Music critics may be disappointed by tomorrow night's series two opener of The Voice. The song choices are not particularly cool. None of the contestants scream mega-selling superstar and Jessie J is still a bit irritating.
However, as a Saturday night TV show The Voice really works.
The judges muck around in their chairs, they squabble and they sing a medley of '60s hits like a drunk work night out at Karaoke Box. It has emotion. It has great stories. It has punch-in-the-air moments of joy as chairs spin, and heartbreaking moments of rejection as they stay motionless. It also has will.i.am acting like a cartoon alien beamed in from the planet dope.
It's probably 15 minutes too long, there isn't enough Holly Willoughby and it's a shame there's not some more upbeat song choices, but it is only episode one.
So will The Voice find a superstar in series two? I doubt it. Will it make good fun Saturday night telly to keep me amused when I'm stuck in on a frosty spring evening? Most definitely.
Do you care if a TV talent show creates stars? Share your verdict below!