I did not watch ABC’s Rising Star reality singing show which featured Guyana’s Lisa Punch. I do not care for such shows.
From the reviews that I read, it was clear to me that this show was more a marketing experiment by ABC than a real talent-spotting contest. Reality shows are more about building audience appeal and loyalty and less about giving exposure to young people with talent.
This is not to deny that some reality shows such as America’s Got Talent and Britain’s Got Talent have provided breaks for a number of artistes, who, without the exposure on these shows, would never have been spotted by the major recording companies.
But it must be accepted that ABC’s Rising Star was not one of those shows. It was never going to catapult anyone from obscurity to fame. One review that I have read did not think that this show was really about finding the best talent around. It was from all accounts more an attempt by ABC to venture into unexplored dimensions of multimedia interactivity.
In this regard, Rising Star has broken new ground. Traditionally there was little or no interaction between audience and the show. That trend began to change in recent years with the spread of technologies which allowed for greater engagement between the home audience and the TV shows.
On some shows, voters are allowed to tweet responses, blog comments or vote favourably or not favourably about the show. This form of engagement is now a major feature of the shows produced by the main networks. And the producers have seen the potential of this engagement in increasing their home audience and ratings. This in turn translates to more profits, because advertisers want to know that any show they sponsor has a large reach.
What Rising Star did, was to take this interaction between audience and show to an unprecedented level. Through the creation of a special application, the home audience was actually able to vote for the contestants on the ABC’s Rising Star. With millions of viewers rooting for the various contestants, these viewers were made to feel part of judging and this encouraged more persons to vote. In this way, ABC was able to gain a wider audience for this new show.
The ingenious feature of the interaction on ABC’s Rising Star was that it was live. The TV audience actually saw the count of votes rising as the millions of viewers tapped in their votes. Previous reality shows that factored in audience votes, were done in such a way as to make it impossible for the home audience to have a decisive say in the final outcome. The weight attributed to the judges’ scores was such as to make it impossible for audience support to overturn that result.
The Rising Star show broke with this tradition, and the share of each judge’s score, according to the reviews seen, were a mere 7% each, leaving the outcome of the competition heavily reliant on votes by the home audience. This was the second ingenious feature of Rising Star.
There were a lot persons rooting for the Guyanese girl. But she was bound to eventually be knocked out of the competition, because once the home audience is the major deciding factor, no Guyanese girl was ever going to gain enough votes to make it all the way to the final round. We simply were never going to have the number of votes to take her all the way to the final.
As much as Guyanese were enthusiastically rooting for Lisa Punch – and they did try to their best to vote for her – their best efforts would eventually have failed to carry her through to the final.
The reason is simple. Guyana is a small country. We have less people here than a borough in New York. On top of this, our internet connectivity and computer density are both, by international standards, low. So one must take our hats off to those whose votes were able to allow the Guyanese girl to make it this far. That she got this far constituted a major achievement.
If Lisa Punch was an American citizen she would have had a better chance, because it would have meant that she would have gained a great many more votes from New York than she did from Guyana, and all the Guyanese living overseas who were rooting for her.
She sang her heart out. But the fact is that we are a small country, with low internet connectivity and computer density, and therefore other contestants with greater reach would always prevail.
There is one consoling fact. If you are good enough, no matter at what stage of a reality show you are knocked out, your talent would have been spotted by the agents from the major recording studios. If you are good enough, they will come knocking.
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