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America's Got Talent

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America's Got Talent
America's Got Talent 2015 logo.png
GenreReality
Talent contest
Created bySimon Cowell[1]
Directed byRussell Norman[1]
Creative directors
Presented by
Judges
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons16
No. of episodes394
Production
Executive producers
  • Simon Cowell
  • Sam Donnelly
  • Jason Raff
  • Rob Wade
  • Trish Kinane
  • Richard Wallace
Running time60–120 minutes
Production companiesFremantle USA
Syco Entertainment
DistributorFremantle
Release
Original networkNBC
Picture format
Original releaseJune 21, 2006 (2006-06-21) –
present
Chronology
Related showsAmerica's Got Talent: The Champions
External links
Website

America's Got Talent (often abbreviated as AGT) is a televised American talent show competition, and is part of the global Got Talent franchise created by Simon Cowell. The program is produced by Fremantle USA and Syco Entertainment, distributed by the former, and broadcast on the NBC television network, premiering on June 21, 2006, after plans for a British edition in 2005 were suspended following a dispute within the British broadcaster ITV; production would later resume in 2007,[3] following the success of the first season. Each season is mainly run during the network's summer schedule, and has featured various hosts over the course of the program's history; the current host is Terry Crews.

The program attracts a variety of participants, from across the United States and abroad, to take part and who possess some form of talents, with acts ranging from singing, dancing, comedy, magic, stunts, variety, and other genres. Each participant who auditions attempts to secure a place in the live episodes of a season by impressing a panel of judges - the current line-up consists of Cowell,[4] Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum and Sofia Vergara. Those that make it into the live episodes compete against each other for both the judges' and public's vote in order to reach the live final, where the winner receives a large cash prize, primarily paid over a period of time, and, since the third season, a chance to headline a show on the Las Vegas Strip.

The show itself has been a rating success for NBC, drawing in on average around 10 million viewers per season. In 2013, a book titled Inside AGT: The Untold Stories of America's Got Talent was released, providing a description of the seasons, contestants, judges, and production techniques of the show, along with detailed interviews with contestants from all seasons, up to the date of the book's publication.[5] Since July 2021, the program has run for a total of sixteen seasons, and has spawned two spin-off competitions: America's Got Talent: The Champions, which premiered in January 2019; and upcoming series AGT: Extreme which will premiere in midseason of summer 2021.

History

Simon Cowell, creator of America's Got Talent and the Got Talent franchise, is primarily a judge on the British international version of the franchise. He has operated as a judge on AGT since May 2016.

The concept of America's Got Talent was devised by X Factor creator and Sony Music executive, Simon Cowell, who sought to create a talent competition far grander than those of other televised talent contests. His proposal, first made to British television network ITV in 2005, was for a competition in which participants of any age and location could enter with any form of talent they chose to perform. The network favored the concept, and green-lit production of a pilot episode to test out the format, with Cowell forming a panel consisting of himself and two other judges, including tabloid journalist Piers Morgan.[6] The pilot proved a success, and the original plan for the program was for a British edition to be produced and broadcast between 2005 and 2006, hosted by British television personality Paul O'Grady, who had assisted with the pilot,[7] before Cowell would propose the format for American television. However, O'Grady became involved in a dispute with ITV during work on the new program, ultimately terminating his contract with them and defecting to another British network.[8]

As a result, Cowell suspended work on the British edition, and hastened his efforts on launching the format in America. Approaching several networks, Cowell received an offer from NBC to produce his televised competition for their network, owing to feedback given to the pilot made for ITV, and agreed to a contract to produce fifteen episodes for the 2006 summer schedule. Cowell worked heavily with production of America's Got Talent, working alongside Fremantle with his company Syco Entertainment, but decided against becoming a judge for the new program, choosing to act as executive producer instead. Cowell and his producers hired Regis Philbin as host for the new program,[9] with David Hasselhoff, Brandy Norwood, and Morgan agreeing to be judges for the first season.[10] The first season proved a success, leading NBC to commission additional seasons, and prompting ITV to contact Cowell with the intention of resuming production on the British edition for 2007. The success of Britain's Got Talent, alongside the American original's own further success, effectively led Cowell to accepting offers for the rights to the competition and its format, creating the Got Talent franchise.

Format

Auditions

Each year's competition begins with a set of audition stages, the first of which, titled "Producers' Auditions", is conducted by production teams across various cities in the United States.[11] This stage is open to all forms of acts and judged by an independent group, and thus determines who will take part in the next stage of auditions titled "Judges' Auditions" - these are held in a public venue within select cities across the country and are attended by the judges handling that year's contest.

Each participant that reaches this stage of auditions is held offstage from the main performing area in a waiting room, and given a number that denotes when they will perform. Upon being called before the judges, the participant is given 90 seconds to demonstrate their act, with a live audience present for all performances. Each judge is given a buzzer, and may use it during a performance if they are unimpressed, hate what is being performed, or feel the act is a waste of their time; if a participant is buzzed by all judges, their performance is automatically over. At the end of a performance, the judges give constructive criticism and feedback about what they saw, whereupon they each give a vote - a participant requires a majority vote approving their performance to proceed to the next stage, otherwise they are eliminated from the program at that stage. Many acts that move on may be cut by producers and may be forced to forfeit their place due to the limited slots available for the next stage. Filming for each season always begins when the Judges' Auditions are taking place, with the show's presenter standing in the wings of each venue's stage to interview and give personal commentary on a participant's performance.

From the fifth to seventh seasons, acts who did not attend live auditions could instead submit a taped audition online via YouTube. Acts from the online auditions were then selected to compete in front of the judges and a live audience during the "live shows" part of the season, prior to the semi-finals. Before the inclusion of this round, the show had a separate audition episode in Seasons 3 and 4 (2008–2009) for contestants who posted videos on MySpace.[12]

In the ninth season, the show added a new format to the auditions in the form of the "Golden Buzzer", which began to make appearances within the Got Talent franchise, since it was first introduced on Germany's Got Talent. During auditions, each judge is allowed to use the Golden Buzzer to send an act automatically into the live shows, regardless of the opinion of the other judges; when it was initially used, the buzzer simply saved an act from elimination. The only rule to the buzzer was that a judge could use it only once per season; the host was later allowed to use the Golden Buzzer for an act starting from the eleventh season.

Second Round

After auditions are completed, the judges conduct a special session (or second "audition" round) to determine which participants will secure a place in the live rounds of the competition, though the format for this stage has been change several times over the course of the program's history. When the stage was first created after the first season, it was designed around a "bootcamp" format titled "Las Vegas Callbacks"  – under the format's rules, participants who made it through the preliminary auditions could undergo training to perfect their act, whereupon each would be assigned to a specific group of participants and perform a second time before the judges. Buzzers would be used to terminate a performance at any time, with those not deemed worthy of a place being eliminated from that season's format.

Between the fourth and ninth season, the format was changed to match that used in Britain's Got Talent - participants who made it through the preliminary auditions had their audition footage reviewed by the judges, who set each one into a specific group, and were not required to perform again, unless the judges requested this. Acts which they liked would be allocated spaces in the live rounds, with the remainder eliminated from that season's competition; all would be brought back to learn of the results of the judges' deliberations. The format was titled "Vegas Verdicts" and held on the Las Vegas Strip; for the final seasons of its usage, it was re-dubbed "Judgment Week" and conducted within New York.[13]

Between the tenth season and fourteenth season, the stage's format was changed again under a new arrangement dubbed "Judge Cuts". Under the new format's rules, participants that passed the preliminary auditions underwent a second stage of auditions before the judges at a fixed venue. However, their performance would not only be judged by the panel, but also by a special guest judge, with all participants divided up into four groups; each group would be judged by their own guest judge. Like the auditions, the main judges could use their buzzers at any time to stop a performance, while the guest judge would be allowed to use a Golden Buzzer for a participant they particularly liked, as well as providing comments on the performances they watched. In the fifteenth season, the round was condensed into a single episode and featured no guest judge, due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States in 2020, before the round was replaced to its current arrangement for the sixteenth season, matching that of Britain's Got Talent around that time.

Live Rounds

Participants who pass their auditions and secure a place in the live rounds of the competitions - including those who received the Golden Buzzer, after the format's introduction and subsequent amendment to match other Got Talent editions - are divided into groups and compete against each other to secure a place within the live final of the competition. Live episodes of the competition are held within a set venue - the location has varied, with the current arrangement focused on a venue within Los Angeles - with live episodes for each season being aired weekly on the network. The arrangement differs to the schedule used by other international editions - Britain's Got Talent, for example, broadcasts its live episodes within the space of a single week. The structure of the live rounds by this stage of the competition has varied, but is more commonly arranged as quarter-finals, semi-finals and the final itself - earlier seasons varied, sometimes having the finals split into separate rounds.

The format of the live rounds, for the quarter-finals and semi-finals, sees each participant conducts a new performance of their act before the judges and the viewers within a "performance" episode. In this episode, the judges can still give out feedback and comments about a participant's performance, and be able to use their buzzers, with the performance terminated if all the buzzers are used. After the episode is broadcast, the network provides the public a set period of time to vote for their act, with the results of these held in a separate "results" episode - when it is broadcast has varied, though it more commonly occurs after an interval of one day after the live "performance" episode. Participants are then informed of the results, with those receiving the highest votes (i.e. Top 4) advancing to the next stage. For the two acts that receive the mid-range of votes for all participants, they undergo a vote by the judges to determine who joins those who advanced; when the program brought in the format of using four judges, a tie-break on this vote results in the act with the higher number of public votes moving on. The Judges' vote was not a common format element in earlier seasons - in the first season, the judges did not decide on who moved on, instead voting for acts they liked or disliked, while in the second season, they could not vote on acts at all, instead only being able to buzz them.

For some acts that are eliminated, there is still a chance for advancement by being appointed as that round's "Wildcard". Until the tenth season, this format varied in how it would work - in some seasons, the judges could each individually select an act, or more than one, to move on to the next stage or compete within a special Wildcard round; in other seasons, the Wildcard acts were selected from amongst the auditions and competed in a special round. Since the tenth season, the format is more structured and works in a similar manner to that of the format used by Britain's Got Talent, in that the judges and the public can each chose the acts they want to see move on as a Wildcard act - although the judges are refrained to choosing a quarter-finalist as a Wildcard act, the public may vote online for an act within each quarter-final and semi-final to move on into the next stage, with this vote aptly named after the sponsor for the show in that respective season.

Those that make it into the season's final compete against each other to secure the most votes from the public, with the number of finalists varying between seasons - later seasons allow each finalist more than one performance and sometimes being joined by a celebrity guest, previous winner, or notable participant from a previous season. The winning act that achieves the most votes is crowned the winner and receives a cash prize - although stipulated as $1 million per the program's advertising, in reality winners can choose to either take it as a lump sum, or as a financial annuity of this amount that is paid out over forty years at around $25,000 per year, with both options liable to taxation.[14] From 2008, the program also includes an additional prize of headlining a show - except from between 2010 and 2013, where the winning finalist headlined a national tour,[15][16] the show they headline mainly takes place within Las Vegas.[17]

Judges and hosts

Terry Crews became the host in 2019, following his involvement in AGT: The Champions in January 2018
Howie Mandel is the longest serving judge on America's Got Talent, since joining in June 2010
Nick Cannon is the longest-serving host of the series, hosting eight seasons between 2009 and 2016
Season Host Judges (in order of first appearance)
1 Regis Philbin Piers Morgan David Hasselhoff Brandy Norwood N/A
2 Jerry Springer Sharon Osbourne
3
4 Nick Cannon
5 Howie Mandel
6
7 Howard Stern
8 Mel B Heidi Klum
9
10
11 Simon Cowell1
12 Tyra Banks
13
14 Terry Crews Gabrielle Union Julianne Hough
15 Sofía Vergara Heidi Klum2
16
Notes
  1. ^ Cowell was absent from the live shows of season 15 due to an accident that resulted in a back injury. After doctors required him to remain under medical observation, production brought in temporary stand-ins for the first two quarter finals before settling on airing the remaining live rounds with a judging panel of three.
  2. ^ Eric Stonestreet had to stand in for Klum during part of season 15, after she fell ill during the last two audition sessions.

In its first season, the judging panel consisted of David Hasselhoff, Brandy Norwood, and Piers Morgan, with Regis Philbin as the host. Prior to the start of the second season, Norwood was forced to step down due to a legal matter she was caught up in,[18][19] leading to her being replaced by Sharon Osbourne,[20] while Philbin was replaced by Jerry Springer as the show's host.[21] Further changes were made to the judging panel and host in later seasons: Springer was forced to leave after the third season, and was replaced by Nick Cannon for the fourth season;[22] Hasselhoff left the show after the fourth season, and was replaced by Howie Mandel for the fifth season;[23] Morgan left after the sixth season, and was replaced by Howard Stern for the seventh season.

In August 2012, Osbourne left the program following a dispute with NBC.[24][25] While the network replaced her with former Spice Girls member Mel B in February 2013,[26] the production staff decided to expand the number of judges on the panel to four - such a format change had already occurred in other international versions of the competition, such as on Britain's Got Talent two years prior. In March 2013, supermodel Heidi Klum was announced as the fourth judge for the eighth season.[27] In October 2015, Stern was replaced by Simon Cowell for the eleventh season.[4] After his eighth year hosting America's Got Talent, Cannon announced plans to retire from the show due to comments he made about the network;[28] despite being under contract to continue his hosting duties, NBC eventually replaced him with Tyra Banks for the twelfth season.

On February 11, 2019, NBC announced a change to the program's host and its judging panel following the conclusion of the thirteenth season – Banks had decided to move on to other projects, leading to her being replaced by Terry Crews, who was already working with the network as host of America's Got Talent: The Champions; both Klum and Mel B decided to leave America's Got Talent due to other commitments that year, leading to actress Gabrielle Union and dancer Julianne Hough replacing them, joining Mandel and Cowell on the judging panel.[29] However, both Union and Hough took part in only one season before they were let go by the program on November 22, 2019.[30] On February 27, 2020, production staff confirmed that Klum would return for the next season, and announced Sofía Vergara as the fourth judge.[31]

Guest judges

In 2015, guest judges were introduced into the program as part of the revamp of the format's bootcamp stage. The following lists the guest judges who appeared within the program for the "Judge Cuts", per season and in order of their appearance by week:

Season Guest judges in Judge Cuts (in order of appearance)
1 2 3 4
10 Neil Patrick Harris Michael Bublé Marlon Wayans Piers Morgan
11 Ne-Yo Reba McEntire George Lopez Louis Tomlinson
12 Chris Hardwick DJ Khaled Laverne Cox Seal
13 Ken Jeong Olivia Munn Martina McBride Chris Hardwick
14 Brad Paisley Dwyane Wade Ellie Kemper Jay Leno

Season synopses

Season Originally Aired Winner Runner(s)-up Third place
First Aired Last Aired
1 June 21, 2006 August 17, 2006 Bianca Ryan All That / The Millers 1
2 June 5, 2007 August 21, 2007 Terry Fator Cas Haley Butterscotch
3 June 17, 2008 October 1, 2008 Neal E. Boyd Eli Mattson Nuttin' But Stringz
4 June 23, 2009 September 16, 2009 Kevin Skinner Bárbara Padilla Recycled Percussion
5 June 1, 2010 September 15, 2010 Michael Grimm Jackie Evancho Fighting Gravity
6 May 31, 2011 September 14, 2011 Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr. Silhouettes Team iLuminate
7 May 14, 2012 September 13, 2012 Olate Dogs Tom Cotter William Close
8 June 4, 2013 September 18, 2013 Kenichi Ebina Taylor Williamson Jimmy Rose
9 May 27, 2014 September 17, 2014 Mat Franco Emily West AcroArmy
10 May 26, 2015 September 16, 2015 Paul Zerdin Drew Lynch Oz Pearlman
11 May 31, 2016 September 14, 2016 Grace VanderWaal The Clairvoyants Jon Dorenbos
12 May 30, 2017 September 20, 2017 Darci Lynne Angelica Hale Light Balance
13 May 29, 2018 September 19, 2018 Shin Lim Zurcaroh Brian King Joseph
14 May 28, 2019 September 18, 2019 Kodi Lee Detroit Youth Choir Ryan Niemiller
15 May 26, 2020 September 23, 2020 Brandon Leake Broken Roots Cristina Rae
16 June 1, 2021 September 15, 2021 Dustin Tavella Aidan Bryant Josh Blue
  • ^1 Although both acts were runners-up, neither were defined in terms of 2nd and 3rd place during the broadcast of the final's result for this season.

Season 1 (2006)

The first season for America's Got Talent was promoted in May 2006, and was eventually aired later that year between June 21 to August 17. While later episodes would pre-record auditions at earlier dates, this season saw them conducted across June, atvenues within the cities of New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, with live-round episodes held within the latter city. Initial advertisements for participants for America's Got Talent implied that the winning act would headline a show in Las Vegas, but this was later dropped in favour of a cash prize of $1 million due to concerns surrounding the possibility of awarding such a prize to a minor.

The first season was hosted by Regis Philbin, with the judging panel consisting of actor David Hasselhoff, singer Brandy Norwood, and journalist Piers Morgan. More than 12 million viewers watched the program's premiere episode, a far greater viewing figure than had been achieved by the premiere of American Idol in 2002, becoming one of the most-watched program on U.S. television and the highest-rated among viewers aged 18 to 49, at that time.[32] The first season was won by singer Bianca Ryan, with clogging group All That and musical group The Millers being the runners-up; neither act were defined in the results in terms of who was placed 2nd, and who was placed in 3rd.

Season 2 (2007)

Following the success of the previous season, NBC commissioned the program for additional episodes, but originally intended for the new season to be aired as part of its 2007 winter schedule. However, the network decided against this due to the program potentially being placed in direct competition for viewers with American Idol, and kept America's Got Talent within its 2007 summer schedule,[33] with the second season being aired between June 5 to August 21, 2007. Prior to filming taking place, Philbin left the program and was replaced as host by Jerry Springer,[34] while Norwood was forced to drop out, due to a legal situation, and was replaced by Sharon Osbourne. Auditions for this season involved venues within the same cities as had been previously used, but with the inclusion of Dallas as part of its competition schedule.

The second season saw the introduction of a new round in the audition process, which was referred to as the "bootcamp stage" - a period of callback episodes filmed in Las Vegas, aimed at streamlining successful participants from the first round of auditions towards a set number for the live rounds. Alongside this, participants in the live rounds moved on via the public vote only, while the episode for results was aired a week after each live episode's performance and within a smaller timeslot for its broadcast. This season was won by singing impressionist and ventriloquist Terry Fator, with singer and guitarist Cas Haley coming in second, and singer Butterscotch placing third.

Season 3 (2008)

The third season was aired between June 17 to October 1, 2008, with a break in its broadcast between August 7–26 to avoid conflicting with NBC's live broadcasts of the 2008 Summer Olympics. Auditions took place much earlier in the production schedule to provide time for finalising editing on recorded footage, taking place between January to April across venues within the same cities from the previous season, but with the addition of a venue within the city of Atlanta. Unlike the previous season, the Las Vegas callback episodes doubled the number of semi-finalists involved in the live rounds.

Following the second season, production staff decided on allowing the judges to vote between the participants placed 5th and 6th in the public vote during the quarterfinals and semi-finals, to determine who moved on at each stage. Apart from some amendments to the program's format, staff also implemented cosmetic changes to the set pieces used on America's Got Talent  – an example of this included the "red X's", used to symbolize disapproval from each judge, being redesigned to match the visual style of those used in Britain's Got Talent. This season was won by opera singer Neal E. Boyd, with singer and pianist Eli Mattson coming in second, and violinists Nuttin' But Stringz placing third.

Season 4 (2009)

The fourth season was aired between June 23 to September 19, 2009, and was the first season to be broadcast in high definition. Auditions were held between January to April  – while the production staff held auditions in venues within New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta, they also held additional auditions within Washington, D.C., Miami, Tacoma, Boston, and Houston. Alongside conducting live auditions, participants could also audition being uploading a video of their performance directly to the program's website. Prior to filming taking place, Springer departed from the program following the previous season, and so was replaced as host by Nick Cannon.[35]

For the fourth year of the competition, the prize for winning was amended so that the winner not only received a cash prize, but would be given their own 0-week headline show at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip. Apart from the change in the prize, the results episodes after each performance episode were returned to their original broadcast format. This season was won by country music singer Kevin Skinner, with opera singer Bárbara Padilla coming in second,[36] and percussionists Recycled Percussion placing third.

Season 5 (2010)

The fifth season was originally intended to be aired as part of NBC's 2009 Fall schedule, much as had been intended with the second season.[37] However, the network disliked the idea and made certain the program was part of its 2010 summer schedule, with this season being aired between June 1 to September 15, 2010.[38] Audition were held between January to April, within venues in Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, Portland (Oregon), Atlanta and Philadelphia. Prior to filming taking place, Hasselhoff was forced to leave the program due to other commitments,[39] and so had his role as judge taken over by comedian and game show host Howie Mandel.[40]

Online auditions for the program were modified to allow registration via YouTube with a guaranteed placement in the competition. Alongside this, the live rounds were extended to include two new quarter-finals, each themed to certain groups of participants  – those who were chosen from their YouTube auditions; and those who had been eliminated during the second round of auditions or their quarter-final  – with the final stage of the competition including its finalists conducting performance, each with their own guest performer, a format that would become a part of the program and an optional choice for finalists in future seasons. Finally, the production staff allowed all finalists to be offered a place on the America's Got Talent Live Tour that year, regardless of their final result, although the winner would be made the headline act for the tour in addition to their main prize.[15][16] This season was won by singer/musician Michael Grimm, with classical singer Jackie Evancho coming in second, and performance group Fighting Gravity placing third.

Season 6 (2011)

The sixth season was aired between May 31 to September 14, 2011, with no major changes to the format for this year. Auditions were held between January to April within Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, Houston, Minneapolis, Seattle, Denver and Chicago, whilst online auditions made via YouTube were conducted on May 4. This season was won by singer Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr., with dance group Silhouettes coming in second, and dance group Team iLuminate placing third.

Season 7 (2012)

The seventh season was aired between May 14 to September 13, 2012, with auditions held between October 2011 and February 2012  – these were conducted within the cities of New York, Washington, D.C., Tampa, Charlotte, Austin, Anaheim, St. Louis, and San Francisco.[41] Prior to filming taking place, Morgan was forced to depart from America's Got Talent after the conclusion of the sixth season, despite signing a three-year contract with the program in July 2010,[42] due to other commitments he had at that time, including hosting his own program on CNN.[43]

Because of Morgan's departure, his role as judge was taken over by radio personality Howard Stern. However, because of his involvement with hosting his radio show for SiriusXM, producers had to agree to move the program's production of live episodes to a venue in New York to avoid disrupting his schedule.[44] As Cowell had made plans to revamp the graphical presentation of America's Got Talent, including the title credits, logo and theme music, the change of venue to the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, New Jersey not only allowed Cowell to have designers revamp the studio set, but allowed production staff to invite larger audiences for performances in live episodes than in previous seasons.[45] This season was won by dog tricks act Olate Dogs, with comedian Tom Cotter coming in second, and musician William Close placing third.

Season 8 (2013)

The eighth season was aired between June 4 to September 18, 2013,[46] with auditions held between January and March that year in a much larger range of venues - amongst these, auditions held in the cities of New York, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Antonio were filmed for the new season. Prior to filming commencing that year, Osbourne left America's Got Talent following the seventh season after a lengthy dispute in August 2012 between herself and NBC.[47][48] While her departure not only led to her role as judge being taken over by Spice Girls member Mel B, [49]production staff opted to expanding the panel for future seasons, recruiting supermodel Heidi Klum to join the new season as a fourth judge.[50]

For the live episodes of this season, producers opted to change the venue, moving it from Newark to New York, and holding them within Radio City Music Hall. In addition, the format for audition episodes, in terms of presentation style, was changed to match that for Britain's Got Talent - in this arrangement, each episode would consist of a number of auditions chosen from those taken from each major venue used for that season.[51] This season was won by martial arts dancer/mime Kenichi Ebina, becoming the first foreign act to win America's Got Talent, with stand-up comedian Taylor Williamson coming in second, and singer/guitarist Jimmy Rose placed third.

Season 9 (2014)

The ninth season was aired between May 27 to September 17, 2014,[52] with "producer's" auditions being held between October to December 2013, across several cities including Miami, Atlanta, Houston, and Baltimore.[53] The "Judges'" audition for the competition were held between February to April 2014 within Newark, New York, and Los Angeles.[54] For this season only, a third-party program was involved in the audition process: one quarter-final place in the competition was offered exclusively by The Today Show, via their website, with the top three picked from those that entered competing against each other to be part of America's Got Talent that year.

Several changes were made to the program for this season. The most significant was the introduction of the "Golden Buzzer" format, first introduced on Germany's Got Talent in 2012, and which had recently been introduced into Britain's Got Talent earlier that year - although it was used mainly to save an act from elimination in the auditions, and wouldn't match the format used across the Got Talent franchise until the following year.[55]

Other changes included the "bootcamp" round being filmed in New York for this season, and the introduction of an new online vote for viewers, named after the program's sponsor during that season, to decide which three act placed in the mid-range of the public vote - 5th, 6th and 7th in the semi-finals; and 4th, 5th and 6th in the "Top 12" round - would be advanced, with the remaining two voted upon by the judges. This season was won by magician Mat Franco, with singer Emily West coming second, and acrobatic troupe AcroArmy placing third.

Season 10 (2015)

The tenth season was aired during 2015, between May 26 to September 16. Producer auditions took place between late 2014 to early 2015 within Tampa, Nashville, Richmond, New York, Chicago, St. Louis, San Antonio, Albuquerque, San Francisco, Seattle, Boise, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles.[56] Filming of Judges' auditions took place during Spring-early Summer 2015, between March and June within Newark, New York, and Los Angeles,[51][57] with a special "extreme" audition session held within Pomona, California, performed on an outdoor stage, for participants with acts considered too dangerous to be conducted within an indoor studio set.

This season saw the Golden Buzzer format, introduced in the previous season, being amended to match that on Britain's Got Talent, in that its use would send a participant directly into the live rounds, although the host was not allowed to use it per the revised format.[58] In addition, the Bootcamp round was revamped with a new format and renamed as "Judge Cuts", in which they were held over four weeks rather than one, consisted of around a total of 80 acts shortlisted from the auditions with around 20 per week, and featured the involvement of a guest judge for each of these episodes, who, alongside the judges, could use the Golden Buzzer for an act they wished to see in the live rounds. Neil Patrick Harris, Michael Bublé, Marlon Wayans, and Piers Morgan, became the first guest judges for the new format in this season.[59][60] The "Snapple Vote", introduced in the previous season, was renamed the "Dunkin' Save" to coincide with the program's new sponsor that season, with its format expanded to cover quarter-finalists who finished in 6th, 7th, or 8th place per public vote alongside the semi-finalists who finished in 4th, 5th, or 6th place per public vote.

This season was won by ventriloquist Paul Zerdin, with comedian Drew Lynch coming in second, and magician mentalist Oz Pearlman placing third.

Season 11 (2016)

The eleventh season was aired during 2016, between May 31 to September 16.[61] Open auditions were held between late 2015 to early 2016, within Detroit, New York, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, San Jose, San Diego, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Orlando, and Dallas.[62] Filming of the judges' auditions took place in March 2016, prior to the premiere episode of the season, and were exclusively conducted within the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Los Angeles.[63] The season premiered on May 31, 2016.[61] During the previous season on June 24, 2015, Howard Stern announced his departure from America's Got Talent on his TV program,[64] leading to Simon Cowell announcing in October 22 later that year that he would be replacing him for eleventh season;[4] on October 4, 2016, Cowell signed a contract that would keep him as a judge on America's Got Talent until 2019.[65] Stern's departure led to the production team moving the live-round broadcasts back to Los Angeles,[66] and filmed at the Dolby Theatre.[67] Apart from this change, the Golden Buzzer format was amended so that the host Cannon could now use it during auditions.[68]

The guest judges who featured in the Judge Cuts for the eleventh season consisted of Ne-Yo, Reba McEntire, George Lopez, and Louis Tomlinson.[69] This season was won by singer-songwriter and musician Grace VanderWaal, with magician mentalist duo The Clairvoyants coming in second, and magician Jon Dorenbos placing third.

Season 12 (2017)

The twelfth season was aired during 2017, between May 30 to September 20.[70] Open auditions were held in late 2016 to early 2017, within Chicago, Austin, Cleveland, Jacksonville, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, San Diego, New York, Charleston, Memphis, and Los Angeles,[71] with filming of the Judges' audition conducted in March 2017 at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Los Angeles. On February 13, 2017, Nick Cannon resigned from hosting America's Got Talent, following a dispute between himself and NBC concerning remarks he had made during his Showtime comedy special Stand Up, Don't Shoot.[72] As a result, despite Cannon being under contract, the network were forced to find a replacement, and chose supermodel Tyra Banks as his successor.[73]

This season is notable for the death of American physician Brandon Rogers, who died in an automobile accident on June 11, 2017, shortly after securing his place on America's Got Talent during the audition's stage. Rogers became involved in the program, following his involvement with American R&B vocal group Boyz II Men earlier that year, after the group had seen footage of him singing on YouTube. In the wake of his death, production staff chose to postpone his audition, before eventually deciding to air it on during the final audition episode of the season on July 11, as a tribute to his memory.[74]

The guest judges who featured in the Judge Cuts for the twelfth season consisted of Chris Hardwick, DJ Khaled, Laverne Cox and Seal.[75][76][77] This season was won by singer ventriloquist Darci Lynne, with singer Angelica Hale coming in second, and Ukrainian dance act Light Balance placing third.

Season 13 (2018)

The thirteenth season was aired during 2018, between May 29 to September 19.[78][79] Open auditions were held in late 2017 to early 2018, within Orlando, Cincinnati, Savannah, Milwaukee, Houston, Las Vegas, New York, Nashville, and Los Angeles,[80] with the Judges' auditions filmed in March 2018 at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Los Angeles.[81] A minor change was made to the format of the Judge Cuts in terms of the number of participants in this stage from the auditions being reduced to 72, with around 18 performing each week. The guest judges who featured in the Judge Cuts for the thirteenth season consisted of Ken Jeong, Olivia Munn, Martina McBride, and Chris Hardwick. This season was won by magician Shin Lim, with acrobatic group Zurcaroh coming in second, and violinist Brian King Joseph placing third.

Season 14 (2019)

The fourteenth season was aired during 2019, between May 28 to September 18. Following the previous season, Tyra Banks, Heidi Klum and Mel B, all opted to leave the program — Banks announced her resignation in December 2018,[82] while Klum and Mel B announced their respective departures two months later.[83] In response to this, production staff sought out their replacements in February 2019 — Terry Crews was appointed as Banks' successor, following his role on the program's spin-off The Champions, while both Julianne Hough and Gabrielle Union were appointed as new judges for the upcoming season.[83] Both auditions and filming began on March 3, 2019.[84][85] On November 22, 2019, it was announced that Hough and Union were let go from the series marking their only season as judges.[86]

Alongside the usual lineup of guest judges for the fourteenth season's Judge Cuts - Brad Paisley, Dwyane Wade, Ellie Kemper, and Jay Leno[87] - this season is notable for the production staff including two additional guest judges for the live semi-finals - Sean Hayes and Queen Latifah.[88] This season was won by singer and pianist Kodi Lee, with choir group Detroit Youth Choir coming in second, and stand-up comedian Ryan Niemiller placing third.

Season 15 (2020)

The fifteenth season was aired during 2020, between May 26 to September 23. Following the previous season, production staff sought to find replacements for Union and Hough, after both were let go from the program in November 2019,[30] leading to the return of Heidi Klum for the new season, alongside the appointment of Sofía Vergara as a new judge.[31] Although filming had begun by late February with auditions, the onset of COVID-19 pandemic in the United States towards March raised serious questions over the production of the program. Live audiences were discontinued on advice by health experts against large gatherings initially, before production was eventually suspended after Klum fell ill during filming, raising concerns about the risk of infection.[89] While production on the live rounds went under discussion, the program confirmed the season would premiere in May with audition episodes, after footage for these was completed and edited for broadcast.[90]

Production on the remainder of the season resumed in mid-June, while the season was being broadcast, though production staff made several changes to minimize the potential for infection amongst those involved, including participants and judges. While the Judges Cuts round was drastically changed, effectively condensing the stage into a single episode,[91][92] the live rounds featured several measures: these included being filmed at Universal Studios Hollywood; the use of a virtual audience; and an expansion in the number of quarter-finalists.[93][94][95]

Prior to the first quarter-final, Cowell was severely injured in an accident and forced to be absent from the remainder of the season leading to production staff initially bringing in guest judges for two of the quarter-finals, before opting to maintain the use of three judges for the remainder of the episodes.[96] The season was won by spoken word poet Brandon Leake, with country duo Broken Roots coming in second, and singer Cristina Rae placing third.

Season 16 (2021)

A sixteenth season was announced in late February 2021 by NBC, who confirmed that both the host and its judges, including Cowell, would return for the new season.[97] Production began after auditions were opened up with participants asked to provide these for judgment, either virtually or via recorded video.[98][99] On March 9, 2021, it was announced that the season would premiere on June 1.[100] This season was won by magician Dustin Tavella, with aerialist Aidan Bryant coming in second, and stand-up comedian Josh Blue placing third.

Related programs

America's Got Talent Live

In 2009, production staff opted for creating a post-show made up of the best finalists from that year's competition, and conducted over a ten-week run between October to January at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. Titled America's Got Talent Live, it featured performances by season four winner Kevin Skinner, and by ten of the finalists from that season, and was hosted by Jerry Springer in between taping for his self-named show in Stamford, Connecticut.[101] The show proved a success and was renewed for 2010 with Springer remaining as host and featuring the finalists of the fifth season, but was remade into a 25-city tour that began at the Caesars Palace Casino and Resort in Las Vegas, and concluding at the Bob Carr Performing Arts Center in Orlando.[102]

The live show was put into hiatus following its 2010 run, and resumed in 2012 with a new host and performances from the finalists of the seventh season, including Olate Dogs, Spencer Horsman, Joe Castillo, Lightwire Theater, David Garibaldi and his CMYK's, Jarrett and Raja, and Tom Cotter. In 2013, another tour was scheduled consisting of the best acts from the eighth season, including Kenichi Ebina, and finalists Collins Key, Jimmy Rose, Taylor Williamson, Cami Bradley, The KriStef Brothers, and Tone the Chiefrocca.[103] In 2014, a new tour was scheduled, consisting of performances from top finalists of the ninth season - Mat Franco, Emily West, Quintavious Johnson, AcroArmy, Emil and Dariel, Miguel Dakota, and Sons of Serendip - as well as from season eight's runner-up Taylor Williamson.[17]

In 2015, America's Got Talent Live discontinued operating as a live tour, instead functioning as a series of shows at the Planet Hollywood Resort in Las Vegas, with performances from the top acts from the tenth season, including winner Paul Zerdin, runner-up Drew Lynch, and fan favorite Piff the Magic Dragon. In 2016, four more shows were scheduled at the same venue, and featured performances from the top acts of the eleventh season's final, including Grace VanderWaal, The Clairvoyants, and Tape Face.[104] In 2017, another four shows were scheduled at the same venue, and featured performances by the top acts of the twelfth season's final, including Darci Lynne, Angelica Hale, Light Balance, and Preacher Lawson.[105] In 2018, three new shows were scheduled at a new venue in Las Vegas, and featured the top acts from the thirteenth season, including Shin Lim, Samuel J. Comroe, Courtney Hadwin, Vicki Barbolak, and Duo Transcend.

Holiday specials

In 2016, NBC commissioned a festive two-hour special of the program, titled America's Got Talent Holiday Spectacular. Broadcast at the Dolby Theatre on December 19, 2016, the special was hosted by Nick Cannon and featured a mixture of performances by acts that had participated across the program's history and several special guests - amongst those involved were Grace VanderWaal, Jackie Evancho, Andra Day, Penn & Teller, Pentatonix, Terry Fator, Mat Franco, Piff the Magic Dragon, Olate Dogs, Professor Splash, and Jon Dorenbos - as well as the judges who had participated in the eleventh season.[106] The special proved a ratings hit, achieving around 9.5 million viewers during its broadcast.[107]

In 2018, NBC commissioned a second special centered on Darci Lynne, the winner of the twelfth season. Titled Darci Lynne: My Hometown Christmas, it was hosted by Farmer, involved Lonnie Chavis from This Is Us as the special's announcer, and broadcast at the Alex Theatre on December 11, 2018. The special featured a special sketch involving Farmer and that season's judges - Simon Cowell, Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum and Mel B - a series of duets involving Farmer with Lindsey Stirling, Toby Keith, and Kristin Chenoweth, respectively, and guest performances by Pentatonix and Hunter Hayes.

America's Got Talent: The Champions

In May 2018, NBC commissioned executive producer and Got Talent creator Simon Cowell with producing an all-star spin-off competition, titled America's Got Talent: The Champions. Cowell had conceived of an idea for a global competition consisting of participants that had appeared across the Got Talent franchise across the years - including notable acts and winners. The format for the spin-off would be similar to the main program, though episodes would be pre-recorded when the spin-off contest was held in Autumn, and then later broadcast during the network's winter schedule.[108][109][110]

The spin-off premiered in January 2019, and as of February 2020, has aired two seasons, with both AGT season 13 winner Shin Lim,[111] and AGT season 14 finalists, V.Unbeatable, winning their respective season's contest.

AGT: Extreme

On May 14, 2021, NBC announced its second spinoff of the main AGT show, with a focus on daredevil acts. Got Talent creator Cowell will serve as an executive producer and judge for the series. The series is set to premiere in midseason of summer 2021.[112][113]

Reception

U.S. television ratings

Since the show began, its ratings have been very high, ranging from 9 million viewers to as many as 16 million viewers, generally averaging around 12 million viewers. The show has also ranked high in the 18–49 demographic, usually rating anywhere from as low as 1.6 to as high as 4.6 throughout its run. Audition shows and performance shows rate higher on average than results shows.

Although the show's ratings have been high, the network usually keeps the show's run limited to before the official start of the next television season in the third week of September with some reductions or expansions depending on Olympic years, where finale ratings are usually lower due to returning programming on other networks.

The highest rated season in overall viewers to date is season four (2009). The most-watched episode has been the finale of season five (2010), with 16.41 million viewers. The series premiere and an episode featuring the first part of Las Vegas Week in season six (2011) have each tied for highest rating among adults 18–49, both having a 4.6 rating.

Season Premiered Ended TV season Timeslot (ET) Season
viewers
Season
ranking
Date Viewers
(in millions)
Date Viewers
(in millions)
1 June 21, 2006 12.41 Final Performances: August 16, 2006 2005–06 Wednesday 8:00 pm 1
Season Finale: August 17, 2006 12.05 Thursday 9:00 pm 1
2 June 5, 2007 12.93 Final Performances: August 20, 2007 2006–07 Tuesday 8:00 pm 1
Season Finale: August 21, 2007 13.87
3 June 17, 2008 12.80 Final Performances: September 30, 2008 10.23 2007–08 Tuesday 9:00 pm (June 17 – August 5)
Tuesday 8:00 pm (after August 26)
1
Season Finale: October 1, 2008 12.55 Wednesday 9:00 pm
(after August 27)
1
4[114][115][116] June 23, 2009 11.30 Final Performances: September 15, 2009 13.84 2008–09 Tuesday 9:00 pm 1
Season Finale: September 16, 2009 15.53 Wednesday 9:00 pm 1
5[117][118] June 1, 2010 12.35 Final Performances: September 14, 2010 14.60 2009–10 Tuesday 9:00 pm 1
Season Finale: September 15, 2010 16.41 Wednesday 9:00 pm 1
6[119][120][121] May 31, 2011 15.28 Final Performances: September 13, 2011 13.67 2010–11 Tuesday 8:00 pm (May 31 – July 5)
Tuesday 9:00 pm (after July 5)
12.65 1
Season Finale: September 14, 2011 14.37 Wednesday 9:00 pm
(after June 22)
11.49[122] 1
7[123][124][125] May 14, 2012 10.48 Final Performances: September 12, 2012 11.05 2011-12 Monday 8:00 pm (May 14 – July 3)
Tuesday 8:00 pm (after July 3)
10.48[126] 1
Season Finale: September 13, 2012 10.59 Tuesday 9:00 pm (May 14 – July 3)
Wednesday 9:00 pm (after July 3)
10.58[122] 1
8[127][128][129] June 4, 2013 12.41 Final Performances: September 17, 2013 11.19 2012–13 Tuesday 8:00 pm 11.22[130] 1
Season Finale: September 18, 2013 11.49 Wednesday 8:00 pm
(after July 10)
10.34[131] 1
9[132][133][134] May 27, 2014 12.00 Final Performances: September 16, 2014 11.46 2013–14 Tuesday 8:00 pm (May 27 – July 15)
Tuesday 9:00 pm (after July 22)
10.31[135] 1
Season Finale: September 17, 2014 12.21 Wednesday 9:00 pm
(after July 23)
10.37[136] 1
10[137][138][139] May 26, 2015 11.09 Final Performances: September 15, 2015 11.33 2014–15 Tuesday 8:00 pm 10.70[140] 1
Season Finale: September 16, 2015 9.54 Wednesday 8:00 pm
(after August 12)
9.07[141] 1
11[142][143][144] May 31, 2016 11.67 Final Performances: September 13, 2016 13.97 2015–16 Tuesday 8:00 pm 11.71[145] 1
Season Finale: September 14, 2016 14.41 Wednesday 8:00 pm
(after July 5)
10.97[146] 1
12[147][148][149] May 30, 2017 12.37 Final Performances: September 19, 2017 14.70 2016–17 Tuesday 8:00 pm 12.90[150] 1
Season Finale: September 20, 2017 15.64 Wednesday 8:00 pm
(after August 9)
12.00[151] 1
13[152][153][154] May 29, 2018 12.16 Final Performances: September 18, 2018 12.99 2017–18 Tuesday 8:00 pm 11.43[155] 1
Season Finale: September 19, 2018 12.88 Wednesday 8:00 pm
(after August 15)
10.39[155] 1
14[156][157][158] May 28, 2019 9.75 Final Performances: September 17, 2019 9.88 2018–19 Tuesday 8:00 pm
Season Finale: September 18, 2019 10.21 Wednesday 8:00 pm
(after August 14)
15[159][160][161] May 26, 2020 9.88 Final Performances: September 22, 2020 6.16 2019–20 Tuesday 8:00 pm
Season Finale: September 23, 2020 6.57 Wednesday 8:00 pm
(after August 12)
16[162][163][164] June 1, 2021 7.37 Final Performances: September 14, 2021 7.42 2020–21 Tuesday 8:00 pm
Season Finale: September 15, 2021 6.39 Wednesday
(after August 11)

Awards and nominations

Year Association Category Result Ref.
2011 People's Choice Awards Favorite Competition Show Nominated [165]
Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Reality Show Nominated [166]
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Hairstyling For A Multi-Camera Series Or Special Nominated [167]
2012 Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Reality Show Nominated [168]
Teen Choice Awards Choice Summer TV Show Nominated [169]
Choice Male TV Personality: Nick Cannon Nominated [170]
2013 Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Reality Show Nominated [171]
2014 People's Choice Awards Favorite TV Competition Show Nominated [172]
Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Reality Show Nominated [173]
2015 People's Choice Awards Favorite TV Competition Show Nominated [174]
Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Talent Competition Show Nominated [175]
2016 People's Choice Awards Favorite TV Competition Show Nominated [176]
Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Talent Competition Show Nominated [177]
2017 Critics' Choice Awards Best Reality Series - Competition Nominated
People's Choice Awards Favorite TV Competition Show Nominated [176]
Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Reality Show Won
2018 Critics' Choice Awards Best Reality Series - Competition Nominated
2019 Kids' Choice Awards Best Reality Show Won [178]
Favorite TV Judges: Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum, Mel B, Howie Mandel Won [178]
Favorite TV Host: Tyra Banks Nominated [178]
Teen Choice Awards Choice Reality TV Show Won [179]
People's Choice Awards Favorite TV Competition Show Won [180]
2020 Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Reality Show Won [181]
Favorite TV Host: Terry Crews Nominated [181]
2021 Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Reality Show Won [182]

International broadcasts

Broadcasts of the program were made available for distribution to other networks on the international television market, and include the following:

  • In the United Kingdom, episodes of America's Got Talent are broadcast by ITV and TruTV since the program's first season, including through simulcasts on the Local Television Limited network.
  • In Canada, the program is broadcast by Citytv, and became a replacement in its scheduling for the Canadian franchise, Canada's Got Talent, after 2012. In June 2021, it was announced that Canada's Got Talent will be returning in spring 2022.[183]
  • In Indonesia, America's Got Talent is broadcast by NET. since October 2016, originally on weekend scheduling for its first week,[184] before being allocated to the network's weekday schedule as a replacement for a concluded TV drama.[185]
  • In Singapore, the show is broadcast on Mediacorp Channel 5, though with a select number of seasons.
  • In the Philippines, originally aired on ABS-CBN from 2008 to 2010, before the premiere of Pilipinas Got Talent. The program was then moved to Studio 23 until January 2014, before it was rebranded to ABS-CBN Sports+Action (now branding as ABS-CBN S+A), and then The Game Channel until its closure in 2015. Since 2016, episodes of America's Got Talent air on AXN Philippines and on RTL CBS Entertainment (now Blue Ant Entertainment).

See also

References

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