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By the Numbers: America's Got Talent is Still a Summer Ratings Juggernaut

Fifteen seasons in, the reality-competition series remains NBC's crown jewel of summer.
  • Terry Crews, Simon Cowell, Sofia Vergara, Heidi Klum and Howie Mandel in a promotional image for America's Got Talent. ( NBC)
    Terry Crews, Simon Cowell, Sofia Vergara, Heidi Klum and Howie Mandel in a promotional image for America's Got Talent. ( NBC)

    As the former editor of TV By the Numbers, Alex Welch knows a thing or two about TV ratings. In his latest column for Primetimer, he looks at the continued dominance of NBCs summer staple, America's Got Talent.

    TV audiences can be a fickle bunch. When the Will & Grace revival first premired in 2017, it broke ratings records for NBC. A year later it was ranked 72 for the season. (This past season — its last — it dropped to 82.)

    Then there's America's Got Talent. Over the fifteen summers since its debut in 2006, AGT has ranked #1 for the season every year. Last year its closest competitor was ABC's The Bachelorette, but America's Got Talent still averaged almost 4 million more viewers than The Bachelorette.

    With The Bachelorette and Big Brother currently sidelined by production shutdowns, AGT is again leading the summer broadcast ratings — this time totally unchallenged.

    Kenadi Dodds in America's Got Talent. (Photo: NBC)

    As of today, America’s Got Talent is averaging a 1.31 rating among adults 18-49, putting it five-tenths higher than any of the summer’s other shows in the demo. Meanwhile, AGT's current season is averaging 8.85 million viewers an episode, 3 million more than any other show this summer. Its closest competition in the 18-49 demo is another NBC series, World of Dance (not coincidentally AGT's lead-out), which is currently averaging a 0.84 rating. ABC’s Celebrity Family Feud is the summer’s second-most-watched show, with a 5.29 million viewer average.

    The show’s dominance extends past its live + same day numbers and into its delayed viewing gains, as well. Across the first three episodes of its current season, America’s Got Talent posted the largest viewer gains after one week of delayed viewing of any show on TV right now, broadcast or cable. One week after their first airings, both the season's premiere episode and its second installment raked in just over 2 million more viewers, while the season’s third episode grew its audience by around 1.85 million viewers after seven days. Those episodes also posted some of the largest Live +7 day demo gains for each of their respective weeks, with each growing by either 0.3 or 0.4 points among adults 18-49.

    Brandon Leake, Howie Mandel, and Terry Crews on America's Got Talent. (Photo: NBC)

    It’s worth pointing out that America’s Got Talent hasn't managed to buck the overall trend of year-to-year linear ratings declines that basically every other show on television has been experiencing for years now. Compared to five years ago, the show is down a full rating point in the demo (from 2.4 to 1.3), while its overall audience has declined by nearly 20% from 10.7 million viewers to 8.85 million viewers.

    Still, fifteen years after its debut, America’s Got Talent remains broadcast TV's highest-rated and most-watched summer show. If this year has proven anything, in fact, it’s that no matter how low traditional TV ratings fall, the odds are high that America’s Got Talent will still dominate its competition. At a time when the broadcast networks are dealing with so much uncertainty, that makes America’s Got Talent the rare dependable performer.

    New episodes of America’s Got Talent air Tuesday nights on NBC.

    People are talking about America’s Got Talent in our forums. Join the conversation.

    Alex Welch has written about television and film for TV by the Numbers, IGN, The Berrics, Paste Magazine, Screen Rant and GeekNation. Follow him on Twitter @alexrwelch.

    TOPICS: America's Got Talent, NBC, Howie Mandel, Simon Cowell, Terry Crews, Ratings