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.