Are Producers on Reality TV Competition Shows Rigging Votes?

Justin Jenkins
Julia Delbel
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There will always be conspiracies when allowing the public to pick the next champion on our favorite talent show competitions. We have watched hit shows such as American Idol and The Voice have multiple shocking eliminations throughout a season. Viewers are left in tears when their favorite contestants do not rack up enough votes for another shot at a championship title. Is it possible that producers are rigging votes on our favorite talent shows?


Season 2 of American Idol was a ratings juggernaut for Fox. Producers built off of the success of Season 1 and delivered another historic season. American Idol has to constantly keep the show fresh. Rather if it is introducing a live band or allowing contestants to play their own musical instruments during an audition, the competition has to continuously follow up in a bigger way.

Idol Season 1 saw Kelly Clarkson blow the competition away with her powerful voice. It did not cross anyone’s mind that runner-up Justin Guarini would win the competition. When Season 2 of Idol came around, it was only natural for producers to want the drama factor to stand out. When Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken were the last two standing, viewers believed they would watch another finale where the champion was a no-brainer. Host Ryan Seacrest called Studdard’s name as the champion. Many viewers were left in awe.

Studdard was a one of a kind talent, but Aiken had a more traditional pop star look in the eyes of most Americans. Aiken’s loss was the first time viewers wondered if producers had a hand in how the results played out.


The Final Vote

The final vote on American Idol Season 2 had been controversial due to the smallness of the margin. Seacrest also mistakenly announced the difference in vote count first as 13,000, then 1,335, but eventually revealed later the count to be around 130,000. That small margin win was enough for fans to call foul.

Relying on a voting system by phone is a big risk. Viewer’s skepticism has evolved just as much as the talent shows they watch. When a frontrunner who has been propped up by their emotional stories, judges feedback, and cheers from the live audience fail to win, it is like a rug has been pulled from under the contestant’s biggest fans.

It is easy to call a competition rigged when your favorite contestant doesn’t win. Viewers who dedicate their time to root and vote for a contestant want to have a sense of a payoff. When a shocking elimination happens, it is just another way that we get a reality check. Our bubble bursts and we look for a reason this could happen.


For a show to rig results doesn’t do them any favors. Producers want the most popular and most talented contestant to win. It is an ego boost and it gives reason why the show should continue to be green lit for more seasons. American Idol will never let a day go by without letting people know they helped discover Clarkson.

If an underdog is performing well, it is another reason why producers will make sure votes are as accurate as possible. America loves a good underdog story.

It is a win-win situation for producers without influencing the voting results.

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