Tuesday, September 6, 2016

All TV show voting is fixed! Or is it? (Part 1)

pupet strings and trend lline

How TV Audience Voting Really Works – or Doesn’t

“All TV show voting is fixed!” Or at least that’s what the airport shuttle bus driver was saying. I took my seat and told her that I did most of the Game Show voting -- close to 1,000 shows. You might be interested in my response to her, plus a more in depth view of TV voting.


There are two main checks: producers wisely remove themselves from the process by hiring outside companies for the voting, (which is how I make a living) and the entire process is strictly supervised by the networks. In almost 30-years in the audience response business, I have been asked twice, if I could fix the vote at corporate/union events; never by a TV production company.

Audience voting is subjective. It depends upon what the vote is about. Some are simply popularity contests instead of talent contests. Audiences vote differently if the contestants are unknowns or if they are celebrities. If the contestants are known, they vote emotionally as fans, not as judges. Fans have no problem assigning an unpopular personality a zero or a one. Professional judges normally rate performance and don’t score below a four.

Producers, if they were to choose to, could influence the outcome of the contest, but not via the vote itself. I’m certainly not saying that they do, I’m just pointing out that they could influence the outcome. They (or their judges) may be responsible for the original selection of contestants (and later on for challengers). Other factors could be: placement in the order of the show and production elements that are used to “sweeten” the presentation. An example of sweeting might be musical accompaniment and other theatrical elements used as a part of the presentation.

Network Standards and Practices (S&P) Departments are staffed with very professional personnel-- sometimes they are attorneys. They insure fairness both in the presentation and accuracy of the voting. For example, when the voting is limited to the in-house studio audience, “friends and family” of the contestants, employees of the production company, the contestants and network, etc., are not allowed to vote. They also make sure the contestants appear in the voting segment in the same order in which they performed. I have never been aware of a show favoring any one contestant in the voting process.

My next blog covers the earliest electronic voting with applause meters to America’s Funniest Home Videos and on to American Idol’s receiving half as many texts in a season as there are people in the United States. Please follow me for the next part.

With over 30 years of experience in helping clients achieve their meetings goals. I am passionate about the power of insight. If I can help your firm discover this power, please contact me.

Alan Warshaw
Quick Tally® Interactive Systems, Inc.
Direct Dial: 310.306.4930

About Me

After graduating from New York University with a degree in Communications, Alan attended the New School for Social Research, Graduate School at N.Y.U. and the Master’s Program in Cinema at U.C.L.A. Following his service in the U.S. Army, Alan was employed by Doyle, Dane and Burnbach Advertising Agency. He worked in the U.S. and Europe in the feature motion picture production business. He was employed by Quick Tally Interactive Systems for one year prior to acquiring the company. He has owned and run the company for almost three decades and has pioneered in the manufacturing of ARS equipment and providing interactive event services. In addition to US State and Federal Government Agencies, America's leading companies, associations and television networks, he has also worked for events clients in the EU, New Zealand, Hong Kong Thailand and Dubai.