Ever since America’s Got Talent: The Champions premiered earlier this year, one question has baffled and intrigued viewers: Who are the mysterious “superfans” voting on which acts will make it to the finals?
Since AGT: Champions was pre-taped, viewers at home are not able to vote for their favorites acts. But the show also didn’t call on its live studio audience to decide which performers should move on. Instead, the show chooses its finalists in two ways. One act each episode receives the Golden Buzzer from one of the judges. Then a panel of so-called “superfans,” who supposedly represent all 50 states, vote on who should take the second spot. These superfans are never shown.
Although the show is vague about how these superfans were chosen, if you do a little digging, you can find some answers — and a few more questions.
What The Show Says
In the first episode, host Terry Crews explained that one act would be “put through by our panel of superfans from all 50 states of America.” As he told the viewers at home, “They’re representing you.”
Once the top three contestants are announced in each episode, Crews shares some information about which demographics each of them were most popular with. For instance, he told Courtney Hadwin that most of her votes came from people age 18 to 34. Cristina Ramos apparently won the Midwest, while Darci Lynne won the South.
These superfans are never shown. Crews merely says their “votes are locked” when it’s time to share the results. He also doesn’t give much information about how they were chosen, except to say that they represent the 50 states.
What NBC Says
The network gave a little more explanation in an interview with Gold Derby earlier this month. A rep told the site that this method was meant to “empower our fans” even if they couldn’t vote from home.
“We compiled a group of Superfans for each show taping that is reflective and as diverse as our nationwide viewing audience,” they said, adding that their “research team sourced delegates from all 50 states who have been longtime and dedicated viewers of ‘AGT.’”
They went on to explain that superfans were not in the audience, but instead watched the show “off-camera in a controlled environment within the show’s venue.” After viewing all the acts each episode, they voted for their favorites on “electronic keypads.” While the judges get to share their thoughts and push the Golden Buzzer, NBC says that “the final decision comes down to our loyal viewers,” implying that the superfans will choose the winner.
So how many superfans are there? The rep didn’t say, although they did share that it was “not necessarily the exact same group of individuals voting for each episode, but there was some cross-over from week-to-week, similar to what you would find with any voting show.”
What The Internet Says
Although NBC makes it sound like the show hand-picked hardcore fans of the show from each of the 50 states, the internet tells a slightly different story. A page still exists on the America’s Got Talent audition website which once included a form for viewers to apply to be superfans.
While the form itself is no longer on the page, it still includes a casting call of sorts. “If you live in the Los Angeles area and consider yourself an AGT superfan, we have an amazing opportunity for you,” the page reads. “Simon Cowell wants you to help him judge!”
You probably noticed something interesting about the above quote. It says the show is looking for people who live in Los Angeles. It goes on to describe their desire for “a diverse panel,” but doesn’t mention 50 states. Talent Recap’s Julia Delbel recalls the form asking potential superfans to share which state they most identified with, and which tapings they could attend.
@marcusdixon Interesting article on AGT Superfans. Your article contains the quote “a ‘research team sourced delegates from all 50 states’ ” and yet this link to an AGT Superfans application form starts with “If you live in the LA area…” https://t.co/W6BIJhVUup So which is it?
— Gil Sery (@gilsery) January 22, 2019
A Reddit user also claimed they received an email from the show about being a superfan, but were “instructed to send an email to another address” rather than fill out the aforementioned application. It’s possible this isn’t true, but could it be that the show also reached out to specific people as well as putting out a call for LA residents?
Does It Even Matter?
If the superfans were actually sourced from Los Angeles and didn’t come directly from all 50 states, that doesn’t necessarily mean they were all born and raised in California. But it still may not make things quite as “diverse” as the show claims. Reddit user reubal summed things up pretty well.
But do viewers really care who’s voting? Well, some of them do — especially if the superfans don’t choose their favorite acts to move forward. Some Twitter users have even accused the show of being “rigged,” and called for the show to provide more information about how they chose these superfans in the first place.
Y’all, let’s be honest. Where did @AGT find these superfans? At the local supermarket? They can be idiots sometimes. How can they not see how awesome it would be to have a unique act like @TapeFaceBoy in the finals! smh
— Conor Heggarty (@ConorHeggarty) January 29, 2019
How can you call it America’s vote when not all of America is voting? What about voters from other countries? How did the “superfans” even become super fans? All these unanswered questions make the show sound rigged ?
— Hayli Brown (@brown_hayli) January 29, 2019
However, the ratings haven’t suffered just because at-home viewers don’t have a say in who moves forward. AGT: The Champions, along with other current talent show The Masked Singer, have still captured America’s attention even if we can’t directly participate. In fact, this week’s Champions episode drew more viewers than any before it, so people aren’t exactly leaving in droves.
We’re Still Entertained
It would be nice if the show could be a little more transparent about how these finalists are chosen. But it’s not the only questionable aspect of the Champions season, considering winners and losers are competing together, and the judges already know certain acts and not others. And at the end of the day, it’s not a presidential election. The stakes are also lower than they are during a regular season — bragging rights rather than a million bucks.
We may not be happy with the results, but we still get to see some really entertaining acts each week. And is that really much different from shows where we can vote?