Gary Barlow has said the success of his new BBC One talent show should not be judged on TV ratings because they are less relevant than they used to be.
Barlow is using Let It Shine, which starts on Saturday, to find the five leads for a Take That stage musical.
Let It Shine will go up against The Voice UK, which has moved to ITV.
Barlow told the BBC: “I think people are ingesting TV in a different way now. That old system of ratings shouldn’t really apply any more.”
Speaking on the set of the show, the Take That star added: “But I think people are still loving, downloading and buying music and listening to music more importantly.
“And I think people are ready for a new Saturday night experience.”
The eight-week show will be hosted by Mel Giedroyc and Graham Norton, while Barlow will act as a judge alongside Dannii Minogue, Spandau Ballet’s Martin Kemp and Glee star Amber Riley.
The winners will tour the UK with the new musical for a year.
Audiences for TV signing contests have been in decline for a number of years. December’s The X Factor final was the least watched in the show’s history and lost out in the ratings to BBC One’s Planet Earth II, which was shown at the same time.
The Voice UK, also had its smallest ever audience for a final last April, with 4.5 million watching, compared with 6.3 million the previous year.
However, Barlow, who was a judge on The X Factor for three series, said there was demand for another TV singing show.
“I think it’s incredibly exciting,” he said. “It’s something I haven’t done before. I’ve done lots of things in my career. But this feels like something new.
“And I have to say I think Saturday night needs a new idea at the moment. And I think this could be it.”
Let It Shine is filling the BBC One Saturday night slot that was vacated by The Voice UK’s move to ITV.
ITV has reinstated Sir Tom Jones as a coach on The Voice UK, two years after he was sacked by the BBC. The BBC showed the first five series of The Voice UK. Both shows start on Saturday and their transmissions overlap for 25 minutes.
Barlow refuses to see it as any kind of singing show shoot-out.
He said: “I’ve got to be honest with you. It’s the same with music – I don’t look right or left – I just concentrate on what we are doing and try and make it the best quality it can be.”
‘A winter treat’
Fellow judge Dannii Minogue, whose sister Kylie was a coach on The Voice UK, believes there is enough appetite from viewers for both shows to do well.
“I think they are really different shows,” she said. “The Voice has really settled into what it’s doing. I think it has such a fan base.
“This one is different. We are giving them the skills which you can take on to use forever. But then also it’s a 12-month gig. That’s a really big job for someone. You come out of that and you can do anything you want to do.”
Let It Shine editor Guy Freeman, who is also in charge of the BBC’s Eurovision Song Contest coverage, insists that there are good reasons for the BBC to have replaced The Voice UK with another signing show.
“A: there’s gut instinct. B: there’s an awful lot of research which says that people at the beginning of a dark winter want a real treat on TV, because Christmas has finished. Everything is finished and you don’t want TV to suddenly kind of desert you.”
Let It Shine is on BBC One on Saturday from 19:00-20:25 GMT. The Voice UK is on ITV on the same night from 20:00 GMT.