The Myth About ‘AGT’ and Las Vegas
America’s Got Talent has always prided itself on showcasing acts audiences won’t see anywhere else…at least not on television.
While not many other reality competitions highlight magic, danger, or stand-up comedy, these genres as well as others we see on AGT have a prominent place in the live entertainment industry. Therefore, it only makes sense that the show’s winner has almost always received some sort of live performance contract in addition to the coveted million dollar prize.
In older seasons the contract was usually either for a headlining spot on an AGT live tour or a residency in Las Vegas. Either way, the winner generally had a steady gig for several weeks or months after the season was over.
Nowadays, the live performance element of the grand prize has been significantly minimized, most likely due to low ticket sales for some of the aforementioned tours and residencies. The winning act has still had the opportunity to headline a show in Vegas, but the number of performances has been greatly reduced and now take place over the course of just a few days. (For instance, Season 12′s prize originally only promised the winner the chance to headline two performances; this ended up being four due to popular demand in ticket sales.)
That’s right: contrary to popular belief, the current grand prize of AGT does not include a Las Vegas residency.
The change in the Vegas contract has coincided with a shift in focus on the show. Seasons 11 and 12 were both very kid-heavy and singer-heavy, with the host and judges emphasizing the million dollar prize and quest to discover the next big superstar rather than the Vegas element and finding an act that could take the Strip by storm like in the past.
It’s interesting to note that Season 11 was when AGT experienced a big spike in ratings. I think the program’s current status as “must-see TV” might actually have a positive effect on the sustainability of a longer stretch of live shows (a tour moreso than a Vegas residency). However, the reason for the boost in popularity can very likely be attributed to younger contestants such as Grace VanderWal, Darci Lynne Farmer, and Angelica Hale, who would probably not be able to commit to the kind of long-term performance schedule other AGT live show headliners were.
We don’t know if the Season 13 prize will have a live performance element yet, but I have a feeling they’ll be sticking with the one-off weekend of shows in Vegas for the foreseeable future. AGT is a television show first, so ratings are the name of the game. At the end of the day, the show’s longevity rests on its ability to maintain an audience as it airs, not ticket sales for live performances, so if the viral kids are what brings in viewers, they’ll keep trying to make those moments happen. Despite this, I really do miss the focus on Vegas-style acts. Hopefully those who do come on get some exposure and more opportunities to perform live from it.