Judges vs Audience: Who Should Decide The Finalists of Survival Shows?

Judges vs. Audience who should pink the finalist of survival shows

The survival shows are basically Korean reality TV that one hates to love. They put a pool of contestants together to compete with each other challenging all the essential elements of their career. Until this point the shows are great, you feel attached to the fresh faces, witness friendships blooming, and laugh with the participants at comic situations.

Then comes the curve-ball of eliminations that are extensively divided among the scores from judges and audience (plus global voting). As much as one understands the value of both it is notable that oftentimes the choice of judges and audience aren’t the same.

This splits up the viewers into sections of people who agree with judges and those who prefer the decision of the audiences resulting in mixed opinions and stressful situations. Which leads us to the question- how much should both parties’ opinions impact the finalist lineup? Let’s explore this dilemma by considering the perks and shortcomings of both systems.

The role of judges in survival shows

Judges are essential for any survival shows because if nobody decides who is more capable of showcasing their talents then nobody survives. Therefore, a survival show is only complete with a panel of judges who are experts in their field.

A typical panel for an Idol survival show includes an expert vocalist, choreographer, rapper, stage director, and K-pop Idol. For a dance survival show the panel includes expert dancers of various genres and for a Rap show, the judges will be legendary rappers. Basically, the shows include experts who can put their individual expertise together and pick the best contestants who pass the challenges to decide or form the winning team.

However, in recent times, the role of judges is getting more and more limited in survival shows. Despite the channels inviting a large number of experts and forming a panel of five or more judges, they aren’t allocated enough power to have an impact on the selection of the winners. Usually, their decisions are altered by the votes of the audience.

On one hand, this practice can be considered fair as it limits the chances of judges giving any biased scores or rigging the results (although a certain amount of conscious selection by keeping the bigger picture in mind is expected).

On the other hand, this adds an element of unpredictability where the deserving candidate with fewer fans gets eliminated and the popular ones get a push to the winner’s glory.

Perks of judges’ scores as a deciding factor Cons of judges’ scores as a deciding factor 
Scores are based on the judgment of the experts. Unpolished talents/contestants with potential don’t get recognition.
Preference is given to talent. Rigging and biased ranking are possible.
All-rounder contestants are chosen. The audience can feel detached from the selection.

The role of the audience in survival shows

The audiences are also very essential for a survival show as one of the major reasons that the show is being produced is to crown the team that is capable of garnering support and praise from their viewers. If a team was going to be chosen only by the experts then it can be done without being released in weekly episodes.

As for Idol survival shows such as Produce and Boys Planet series the ultimate goal is to form a project group that is made by the fans based on their choices. Alternatively, the shows include the trainees of a single entertainment agency and the audience votes help form a team that can perform for a long time for the fans that played an important role in their debut.

However, in recent times, the judgment of audiences has resulted in questionable rankings. As the viewers are not experts in the industry they are not obliged to vote for the best performer. Therefore, they can vote on various other criteria such as the visuals, relatability, and sense of humor of the contestants.


Although these characteristics are important in the industry they aren’t and shouldn’t be the benchmark of picking the best candidate. Therefore, on one hand, the audience votes assures a certain success and strengthens the rapport between the participants and their fans. Additionally, it limits the chances of biased and unfair treatment towards participants or rigging of the show’s results.

Meanwhile, on the other hand, the votes can become a variable that can result in the elimination of a deserving candidate and the survival of a fan-favorite contestant. This can result in the formation or selection of a team that has some powerful candidate with some unpolished diamonds resulting in internal conflicts and public backlash.

Perks of public votes as a deciding factor Cons of public votes as a deciding factor
Unpolished talents/contestants get a chance to prove themselves in later challenges. Elimination of stronger or more talented candidates.
Limits the chances of rigging the show’s results. Formation or selection of an unsynchronized team.
The audience can grow rapport with the contestants yielding more success. Preferential or biased voting based on personality and visuals.

Who should decide the winners of a survival show?

As per the above comparison, we can note that both the judges and the public votes are necessary to ensure that an all-rounded team is selected with the best deserving candidate without any manipulation or rigging of the rankings. For such results, a 50-50 division of the scores’ weightage seems ideal. However, it is only possible when the judges are fair and the audiences are responsible for their power.

Alternatively, the makers of survival shows can invite live audiences consisting of people who are knowledgable in the field similar to Mnet’s Street Man Fighter’s Muse of Men challenge where 100 dancers were invited to evaluate the performances.

As such if the scores are divided among judges, live audiences, and the public’s votes then we can somewhat ensure to find talented winners, all-rounders with a public presence chosen without any biases or preferences.

However, it needs to be noted that despite all these precautions there are times when the challenge itself becomes a variable yielding unexpectable and hard-to-accept results. Such as the first elimination battle of SMF between Prime Kingz and Bank Two Brothers, where Prime Kingz had to leave the ground despite being one of the strongest teams in the show.

Therefore, constant changes in the evaluation of contestants in accordance with the time is necessary to ensure a fair result.

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