On May 14, Howard Stern will debut as a judge on NBC’s new-look America’s Got Talent. That show will follow the week-earlier season finale of The Voice, also on NBC. But the UK versions of those shows, which air on rival networks, are not playing together quite so harmoniously. America’s Got Talent impresario Simon Cowell recently returned to the UK as a judge on local ITV series Britain’s Got Talent, to give it a shot in the arm. While ratings are strong for BGT, it debuted lower this year than last and had to concede the Saturday night crown this past weekend to The Voice UK, which airs on BBC One. Cowell on Sunday singled out BBC Controller Danny Cohen and tweeted the following: “A slightly irritated congrats to Danny and the BBC.”
The Voice UK has steadily added about 500,000 viewers week-on-week since its March 24 debut, but BGT was down 850,000 this week (not factoring in time shift viewings). Premiering strong on March 24 and building on March 31, The Voice still lost out in the overall ratings to BGT on both of those Saturdays. But, what’s become highly notable is the fact that The Voice is consistently beating BGT during the key 20 minutes when the shows overlap (The Voice airs from 7-8:20pm, BGT airs from 8-9:20pm). In their first 20-minute standoff, The Voice led with an 8.96 million average compared to BGT’s 6.56 million. In the second showdown, The Voice triumphed again with 9.8 million pairs of eyeballs compared to BGT’s 7 million. Then this past Saturday, The Voice had a staggering lead, averaging 10 million viewers in the 20-minute stretch against 6.2 million for BGT. The Voice also beat BGT overall for the first time, averaging 9.5 million viewers compared to BGT’s 9.1 million. Some local reports now suggest that Cowell is considering tweaking his demeanor given how fans are reacting to the feel-good vibe of The Voice. Still, the season is long and Cowell remains sanguine, further tweeting Sunday: “I thought our team made a fantastic show last night and congrats to them as well. Loving the show this year.”
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