Number of Seasons: 9

America's Got Talent (also known as AGT) is an American reality television series on the NBC television network, and part of the global British Got Talent franchise. It is a talent show that features singers, dancers, magicians, comedians, and other performers of all ages competing for the advertised top prize of one million dollars. The show debuted in June 2006 for the summer television season.

Format and Stages

Among its significant features were that it gave an opportunity to talented amateurs or unknown performers, with the results decided by an audience vote. The format is a popular one and has often been reworked for television in the United States and the United Kingdom. The current version was created by Simon Cowell. The American version became the first full series of the franchise. Despite Cowell's involvement in the show's production, his contract with Fox for his involvement with American Idol prevented him from being involved in the show as a judge. After leaving Idol Cowell began to produce and judge a version of The X Factor for Fox in 2011.

There are six stages to America's Got Talent:

Stage 1 - Producer's auditions

The general selection process of the show begins with separate producers' auditions held in various cities across the United States, some of which host only the producers' auditions, and some of which also host judges' auditions held in theaters. This round is held several months before the judges' audition. Acts that have made it through the producers' audition then audition in front of the judges and a live audience.

Stage 2 - Judges' auditions

Following the producers' auditions, acts audition in front of three celebrity judges. These auditions are held in theaters in various cities nationally and are later televised. The judges may terminate an act's performance early by pressing their red buzzer, which lights up their corresponding X above the stage. If an act receives three X's, they must stop their performance. Since season three, large audiences have also been a factor in the judging process, as their reaction to an act's performance may swing or influence a judge's vote. If an act receives two or more "yes" votes, they advance to the next round of competition. However, in the majority of seasons, several acts do not perform in the second round and are immediately sent home by the judges without a second performance.

Stage 3 - Las Vegas Week

Since season two, Las Vegas Week has been an intermediary televised taped round between the auditions and the live shows. This round takes place in a notable venue on the Las Vegas Strip. Names for this round in previous seasons has included "Las Vegas Callbacks" and "Vegas Verdicts". The Las Vegas round generally consists of acts performing a second time for the judges (with the exception of season 4), who then pick select acts to move on to the live shows. An act eliminated in Las Vegas Week is not completely excluded from the live show competition, as several seasons have featured contestants being brought back from this round as "wild card" acts. Prior to the inclusion of this round, the judges would have a list containing a number of acts which advanced past the auditions during each live show. The judges would then pick ten acts from that group each week, leaving several acts without the chance to perform.

Stage 4 - YouTube auditions

Since season five, acts who do not attend live auditions may instead submit a taped audition online via YouTube. Acts from the online auditions are then selected to compete in front of the judges and a live audience during the "live shows" part of the season, prior to the semi-finals. The most successful of the YouTube auditions was Jackie Evancho, who went on to place second in season five. Before the inclusion of this round, the show had a separate audition episode in seasons three and four for contestants who posted videos on MySpace.

Stage 5 - Live Shows

During the live shows, a group of acts ranging from only a Top 20 (season 2), to as many as 48 (or more — counting the YouTube acts), compete for viewers' and judges' votes. In the first season, the judges could not end an act's performance, but could either "check" or "X" the performance during their critique. Since season two, judges have been able to end an act's performance early, and the "check" was removed. Acts generally perform first in a live round consisting of a series of quarterfinals. In seasons with YouTube auditions, the round of live judging of YouTube finalists takes place then, as part of these quarterfinals. Then, there may be additional shows for "Wild Card" acts — acts that one or more of the judges select to be given one more chance for audience vote despite previous elimination. From these shows, the existing group is narrowed through votes by the public and/or the judges (depending on the season). Acts then move on to a semifinal round, and even further rounds (such as a "Top 8" or a "Top 10", depending on the season) through a series of weekly shows, which trim the number of acts down each time based on a public vote. In the majority of seasons, judges have had no vote from the semifinals on. During seasons one through six, the live shows were filmed at CBS Television City in Los Angeles. Beginning with season seven, the live shows have been held at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark.

Stage 6 - Final

All these rounds culminate in a live final, which has consisted of anywhere from four to ten acts throughout the seasons. The act with the most votes is declared the winner, given $1 million, and, since season three, a chance to headline a show on the Las Vegas Strip. Since season 5, the show has also made the winner the headline act of a national tour with runners up following the final show, stopping in 25 cities.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org