“America’s Got Talent” season 12 aired its finale on Wednesday night, closing out the show’s highest-rated season ever in delayed viewing.
On a Nielsen Live+7 basis, “America’s Got Talent” averaged 15.7 million viewers per episode this season, up 14% from last summer. In the key adults 18-49 demographic, the show went from an average of a 3.1 rating last season to a 3.4 this season, again in L+7. Those numbers do not take into account this week’s episodes, which both saw substantial growth in Live+Same Day numbers from the previous week.
Tuesday’s episode this week drew a 3.0 rating and 14.7 million viewers, up 30% in the demo and 27% in total viewers from last week Tuesday (2.3, 11.6 million). Wednesday’s finale drew a 3.0 and 15.6 million viewers, up 43% in the demo and 35% in total viewers from last Wednesday (2.1, 11.6 million). The finale drew the show’s biggest demo rating for a Wednesday broadcast in six years and was the most-watched episode of the show for any night also in six years.
While most shows see declines in their later seasons, “AGT” has continued to not only endure but thrive. Series executive producers Sam Donnelly and Jason Raff told Variety that the show’s ability to stay fresh has kept it in the public eye for so long.
“We are custodians of a fantastic format that let’s us try new things, bringing new things that you’ve haven’t seen on TV to the forefront,” Donnelly said. “I think that really helps us. I think that really means that you haven’t seen it all before on this show and that definitely keeps people interested.”
“I’ve been lucky enough to be there for the full 12 years and I think the one thing that, like any relationship, we’ve never gotten complacent,” Raff added. “We started out as this underdog show in the summer and I think part of us still has that underdog mentality. Every member of this show always pushes themselves every year to make it better.”
But the show is certainly no underdog. It has been the most-watched summer unscripted series for each of its 12 seasons on the air and the number one entertainment show on the broadcast networks in total viewers every week it’s aired this summer. It has also been used to successfully help launch other shows. Just this summer, the Jennifer Lopez-produced “World of Dance” launched behind “AGT.” At 10.1 million viewers per episode on average in L+7, “World of Dance” is the most-watched new summer alternative series on broadcast in 10 years. It also ranked as the number two broadcast show of the summer in total viewers and the key demo behind only “AGT.”
When all is said and done, though, both Raff and Donnelly agree that the contestants are what drive viewership, with Raff stating that this season’s finale “had the highest vote in the history of the show.”
“What I was proud about the most was that–sometimes you’ll have a good top 10, but you can tell it’s between one or two really,” he said. “Every one of those performances on Tuesday night by this top 10 was worthy of potentially winning the show. It was exciting getting the results next day not really knowing what was going to happen.
The show is produced by FremantleMedia North America and Syco Entertainment, with Simon Cowell, Trish Kinane, and Richard Wallace executive producing along with Donnelly and Raff.