'America's Got Talent' finale hits 5-year ratings high

Grace VanderWaal's captivating power extends to ratings, too.

America's Got Talent's eleventh-season finale Wednesday, which saw the 12-year-old, ukulele-playing singer-songwriter crowned champion, as expected, scored 14.1 million viewers, the NBC talent competition's biggest finale in five years, and marks a whopping 46% jump, of 4.5 million viewers, from last year's finale (which ran against a Republican presidential debate), according to preliminary Nielsen ratings.

The finale caps AGT's most-watched season since 2011. Why the growth of summer's top-rated entertainment program?

Experts cite the presence of VanderWaal, a social-media phenomenon; the arrival of executive producer Simon Cowell as a judge, replacing Howard Stern; and an increase in the number of singers competing alongside jugglers, contortionists and others.

Wednesday's finale, which was up 29% from last year among young-adult viewers, also helped Blindspot's return. The drama drew 7.3 million  same-day viewers, its biggest audience since November. Blindspot moves to its regular 8 ET/PT time slot Wednesday. 


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