American Idol 2020 Live Shows Schedule Change: How It Works

American Idol Finale Watch

ABC The season 18 finale of "American Idol" airs on Sunday, May 17 at 8/7c on ABC.

Tonight’s episode of ABC’s American Idol will make television history, as it will be the first-ever U.S. competition-based reality show filmed entirely at the homes of the judges, contestants, mentor and host. This is the last Idol show of the season that will not be broadcast live coast-to-coast.

There were originally supposed to be a total of six live shows for Season 18 of Idol, but the coronavirus pandemic forced the producers of the show to change their plans. Since they didn’t want to wait until they were allowed to get back on set, they needed to figure out another solution, which is what led them to filming remotely.

“One was, do we stop everything down, press pause and then come back later,” said ABC alternative programming chief Rob Mills. “And I think we all agreed (that) to sort of stop and then come back who knows when and say, ‘Hey, remember these people?’ – that would be really unsatisfying.”

They shipped 3 iPhones to each contestant along with lighting, and the contestants began to meet with their voice coaches via Zoom calls in order to get the coaching they would have gotten in Hollywood. The usual Idol band recorded the arrangements of the contestants’ chosen songs from their homes.

The Season Finale Is Set to Air in May

Originally, the Idol live shows would have started with a Top 14 show on April 12, a Top 10 show on April 18 and a Top 8 show on April 26; however, due to the circumstances, the number of live shows got cut down to just a few.

Next week, on Sunday, May 3, American Idol will announce the top 10 contestants and feature performances from each of them, followed by another round of live voting after the episode. Each week, the pool of contestants will be smaller in numbers, and eventually, it will be down to just a few contestants to compete in the final week of the competition.

The season finale of the show now set to air on Sunday, May 17 when host Ryan Seacrest will crown the Season 18 American Idol.

You Can Vote For Your Favorites Online, on the App or Via Text Message

There are three separate ways to vote for your favorite contestants. First, you can vote at or download the American Idol text. The other convenient way to vote is via text message. For texting, you simply text the number of the contestant you would like to vote for to “21523.”

The numbers for the contestants tonight are:

Kimmy Gabriela: text “1” to 21523
Jovin Webb: text “2” to 21523
Franklin Boone: text “3” to 21523
Olivia Ximines: text “4” to 21523
Louis Knight: text “5” to 21523
Makayla Phillips: text “6” to 21523
Aliana Jester: text “7” to 21523
Faith Becnel: text “8” to 21523
Nick Merico: text “9” to 21523
Lauren Spencer-Smith: text “10” to 21523
Cyniah Elise: text “11” to 21523
Francisco Martin: text “12” to 21523
Sophia James: text “13” to 21523
DeWayne Crocker Jr.: text “14” to 21523
Dillon James: text “15” to 21523
Arthur Gunn: text “16” to 21523
Julia Gargano: text “17” to 21523
Grace Leer: text “18” to 21523
Just Sam: text “19” to 21523
Jonny West: text “20” to 21523

You don’t have to limit your vote to just one contestant. Instead, you can split your 10 votes between contestants if you’d like to. On the website or the app, you can split them up however you want. When it comes to texting, you just have to text 21523 the contestant’s number however many times you’d like to vote for them. Altogether, you can vote up to 30 times per week.

Tune in to American Idol as TV history is made on Sunday, April 26 at 8 p.m. on ABC.

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