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'America's Got Talent': Who won, how it finds success during the summer

A winner was crowned during the most recent season finale of 'Talent,' which appears to have become a summer staple for many viewers, judging from its ratings success.

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    'America's Got Talent' judges Heidi Klum (l.) and Simon Cowell (center) talk with host Nick Cannon (r.).
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Singer Grace VanderWaal took the title of “America’s Got Talent” winner on the recent season finale of the program. Meanwhile, the show itself continues to be a summer success by embracing a TV trend.

Ms. VanderWaal, who sang for her skill on the show, was declared the winner in a Sept. 14 finale. Other competitors on this season of the program include Jon Dorenbos, who performed magic tricks. 

The show aired its 11th season this year on NBC. Judges on the program include Simon Cowell, formerly of “American Idol,” as well as Howie Mandel, Spice Girls singer Mel B, and Heidi Klum of “Project Runway.” 

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“Talent” was a ratings success during the warm days of summer, with the program coming in again as the highest-rated show of the season.

The TV calendar is changing in many ways. The fall-to-spring broadcast season is mostly being eschewed by cable networks and streaming services, who premiere high-profile programming at any time of the year. (For example, Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black” has debuted during the summer in the past and HBO’s “Game of Thrones” usually runs into the summer after premiering during the spring).

Yet airing reality shows during the summer has been a staple for broadcast networks over the past years, with Variety writer Rick Kissell noting in 2014 that reality programming like CBS’s “Big Brother” and “America’s Got Talent” were particularly popular that summer. 

Future successes “American Idol” and “Dancing With the Stars” both started out as summer programs before their respective networks switched them to the fall-to-spring schedule.

By camping out in the summer (“Talent” has aired during the summer for all of its 11 seasons), “Talent” has apparently hit on a winning ratings strategy. 

“’AGT’ has been a summer ratings leader for years,” USA Today reporter Bill Keveney writes, while Associated Press staff notes that “Talent” airing during the summer is a staple of programming now. Perhaps the familiarity is part of what makes viewers return again and again. 

“The return of ‘America’s Got Talent’ to television screens, along with a liberal dose of reality shows and reruns, are just as reliable as thermometers,” AP staff writes.

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