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As the “Ur So Beautiful” tour concludes, Grace’s fans are looking ahead to a fall EP, a looming Stargirl movie premiere in early 2020, and a lot of speculation about other potential moves. Over the last few years, many have debated the pros and cons of her returning to the America’s Got Talent stage, in order to raise her profile and please the chief of her recording label. When AGT: Champions was announced in mid-2018, many questioned if Grace would, or should, participate. While in the end, she did not appear due to scheduling conflicts with filming, the question of her potential appearance in future seasons remains open. While arguments for or against her involvement may be outlined elsewhere, the following set of facts, statistics, and observations have been compiled to inform those who may not be aware of the format or context of the show, which will broadcast its second season in early 2020.
– AGT: Champions is filmed in the early fall for broadcast in early winter, and there are no separate results shows for the five qualifying-round episodes.
– With only 10 acts per qualifying AGT: Champions show, some of the tight performance-time restrictions are somewhat relaxed. Songs performed by various acts in the first season routinely went over two minutes, and in the finals, Susan Boyle’s “I Dreamed A Dream” performance ran more than two minutes and forty seconds, precluding the need for extensive trimming to existing songs in order for them to be performed.
– The MOST performing appearances one can have based on last year’s Champions example is only three – one time for the qualifying round, one time for the finals, and perhaps one time for the finale. Darci Lynne Farmer and Preacher Lawson each had three performances, with Lawson’s finale segment being prerecorded.
– Even if a Champions act is not advanced to the finals, it may be invited to perform again in the finale. Acts like the Clairvoyants, Tokio Myers, Jackie Evancho, Brian Justin Crum, and Cristina Ramos all appeared on the finale having not advanced from their one competitive performance.
– The qualifying shows are not live, and no large swaths of the American viewing public need to be convinced of anyone’s worthiness to continue to the finals. Advancements are instead decided by either the panel of judges or a small group of “superfans”, some 50 secret deciders spread throughout the country. While the choice of these voters is hidden and their impartiality is only assumed, it is likely that they would be directed to evaluate each contestant’s performance on its own merit, and not to make any judgment in comparison to their previous contest history.
– The odds of making it past the opening round of Champions are a lot worse than a similar round of regular AGT competition. With 50 acts and only 12 finalists, by pure numbers, Champions contestants had a 24% advancement rate beyond the qualifying round, compared to a 42% advancement rate from AGT Season 13 Judge Cuts, a 61% advancement rate from the Quarterfinals, and a 45% advancement rate from the Semis. The bottom line is that because of the format there is less of a potential stigma from being eliminated early, as previous AGT winners Bianca Ryan, Paul Zerdin and Kenichi Ibina can likely attest.
– While the judges’ role in the preliminary rounds of “regular” AGT is quite important, once the live shows begin, the judges are more of an afterthought, able to only move contestants forward to the next live round through a weekly save or a wild card. As an example, in the Season 13 Quarterfinals, only four of the 22 advancing acts (18%) were through due to their intercession. The AGT: Champions format has judges deciding seven of the 12 finalists (58%) through golden buzzers and wildcards, compared to only five (42%) though superfan voting.
– The pressure to win purely for the prize pool is relatively low. Besides being named “World Champion”, a hollow title since the advent of the Britain’s Got Talent: Champions competition in mid-2019, the winner’s reward is a cash prize of US$25,000. While enough to be a useful benefit to the winner, many participants are likely to earn well more than that simply by appearing, through the bump in their professional careers that televised exposure would bring.
– Out of 50 contestant acts, the first AGT: Champions season had five previous AGT Winners, (Champions winner Shin Lim, Farmer, Ryan, Zerdin and Ibina) as well as 15 Top Five AGT finishers and another nine AGT finalists. The contest also included 13 winners of Got Talent competitions worldwide.
– Ratings for AGT: Champions were off considerably from the live shows of the previous AGT season. The five quarter- and semi-final episodes of AGT Season 13 averaged 10.91 million viewers, while the comparable first five episodes of Champions averaged 9.98 million viewers, an 8.5% drop. The Finals and Finale of the two seasons showed an even greater disparity, with 12.99 million and 12.88 million viewers for the last two episodes of AGT Season 13, and only 10.44 million and 10.57 million viewers for the final two shows of AGT: Champions. Most importantly, the numbers were even worse in the key 18-49 year-old demographic bracket, with Season 13 garnering a 2.22 average rating for that group and Champions only pulling down 1.70. While reasons can be speculated for the drop, there are some distinct scheduling differences. The regular AGT seasons broadcast from early June through mid-September, the off-season for traditional network television; AGT: Champions premiered in early January and ran through the end of February 2019, coming up against top-level competition through the February sweeps period. The show was also clearly scheduled and positioned as counter-programing, airing directly against the first seven episodes of ABC-TV’s The Bachelor. Regardless of the reasons, the Champions shows are somewhat less of a draw than AGT proper.