With a new phase of the “Rising Star” competition came a new mechanism by which the west coast viewership, despite not being able to watch and vote during the initial, live broadcast, could participate.
Of the six contestants involved in head-to-head “Duels” this week, three would be crowned winners and automatically promoted to the quarterfinal round based on the initial audience’s vote.
The losing contestant who received the largest vote percentage during the west coast broadcast would also receive a spot in the quarterfinals.
By virtue of winning their “Duels” during the live broadcast, Alice Lee, Megan Tibbits and Jesse Kinch were the first three to claim a quarterfinal spot.
By virtue of scoring a larger percentage than fellow duel losers Sarah Darling and Will Roth during the west coast broadcast, Lisa Punch grabbed the fourth available spot in the quarterfinals.
Punch, who lost to Lee by a score of 69% to 66% during the live portion, scored 67.43% from the west coast audience. While it still came short of the 68% Lee received from the west coast, it was the largest percentage scored by any of the contestants eligible for a save.
Sarah Darling, who scored 69% during the first broadcast (and lost to Megan Tibbits, who earned 71%), narrowly followed with 67.34% from the west coast (Tibbits still won the duel with 69% from that segment of the viewership). Will Roth, who was the lowest vote-getter on the east coast (57% against the 90% received by Duel opponent Jesse Kinch), also brought up the rear on the west coast. He scored an even weaker 56% from that segment of the audience (Kinch received 89% from that crowd).
As viewers discuss this week’s results, focus will certainly center on the impact of the experts’ 7% voting power. While additional support from the expert panel of Kesha, Brad Paisley and Ludacris would not have been enough to save any eliminated contestant in the audition rounds (it was almost always needed, however, to help the contestants that did advance get to the required 70%), it did affect the outcome this week.
During the initial broadcast, Alice Lee and Megan Tibbits only defeated Lisa Punch and Sarah Darling, respectively, due to the boost they received from the experts. While Lee and Tibbits received right swipes from all three experts, Punch and Darling only received a positive vote from one (Kesha for Punch, Brad Paisley for Darling).
Had the entirety of the vote rested in the hands of viewers, Lisa Punch, Sarah Darling and Jesse Kinch would have been the three initially selected to advance.
While the rules were very clear–thus making the application of those rules fair–the disparity between fan preference and the outcome will surely raise questions about whether the 7% bonus is being optimally applied in the “Duels” round.