What Is the Most Popular Singing Competition Show on TV?

Singing competitions have been around for over two decades and have only increased in popularity. The genre was made popular when American Idol stepped into the scene, thus paving the way for others like The Voice, America’s Got Talent, and X-Factor.

Audiences love watching amateur singers get on stage to audition for a shot at stardom and train to become household names in under a season. Plenty of audition-based talent shows air on TV, but some are more beloved than others. So what’s the most popular singing competition show on TV?

How singing competition shows came to be

Televised talent shows might seem like a new thing today, but these shows have an older beginning. The genre seemingly first appeared on television in 1948 with The Original Amateur Hour, which aired on the Dumont Network. A year after its premiere, NBC picked it up. The series became the first show in history to showcase talent from all over the U.S.

The show followed a similar model to shows like American Idol and America’s Got Talent. Contestants would get on stage and audition for the judges. If the performers impressed them, they would return to compete against other singers who also made the cut.

The finals were held at Madison Square Garden. The winner would walk away with $1500 and a trophy — a stark contrast to the prizes contestants today win. These days, talent shows give their winners hefty prizes and multimillion-dollar recording contracts.

Singing Pro reports that The Original Amateur Hour produced extraordinary talents like Frank Sinatra and Gladys Knight. The King of Rock and Roll himself auditioned for a spot on The Original Amateur Hour but failed to make the cut.

The Original Amateur Hour ran for 22 years before its cancellation in 1970. Star Search then premiered in 1983, producing notable stars of the modern era such as Christina Aguilera, Usher, Britney Spears, and Justin Timberlake. Star Search introduced categories such as male and female vocal categories that helped the participants shine in various ways and ran for 12 seasons until 1995.

When American Idol debuted in 2002, it became one of the most beloved and successful TV franchises in entertainment history. The show found favor among audiences for its competition model, and its success led to an increase in more TV shows such as X-Factor, The Sing-Off, The Voice, and very recently The Masked Singer.

Singing competition shows might be a hit with audiences across America, but The Masked Singer stands out for several reasons. For starters, not only does it involve professional singers stepping onto the stage, but the singers are also covered in a head-to-toe costume.

The costumes make it hard for anyone, even the judges or host, to identify who’s wearing it. This makes the guessing game all that thrilling. The show is relatively new compared to its counterparts like American Idol and The Voice. But The Masked Singer has already won hearts.

The show returned for a sixth season. As TV Series Finale reports, it’s still on a winning streak concerning ratings. The Masked Singer ended its fifth season with 6.637 million viewers and an impressive 1.73 rating in the 18-49 demographic.

Which shows are the runnerups?

Cam Anthony and Blake Shelton smile for the camera after wrapping Season 20 of The Voice
‘The Voice’ winner Cam Anthony and his mentor Blake Shelton | Trae Patton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

The Voice came second, finishing its 20th season with a 0.98 rating. American Idol ranks third with a 0.87 rating. America’s Got Talent cut in close at 0.85 in third place. The Masked Singer’s sister show, The Masked Dancer, came in fourth with a 0.72 rating.

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