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'Dancing With the Stars' finale: Who will be competing at the end of season 21?

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(Read caption) 'Dancing With the Stars' stars Alek Skarlatos (r.) and Lindsay Arnold (l.).

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Following the elimination of one contestant, three dancing pairs are proceeding to the final episode of ABC’s reality competition “Dancing With the Stars.” 

“Big Time Rush” actor Carlos PenaVega and his partner Witney Carson departed the show after performing on the Nov. 23 episode. PenaVega’s wife, actress Alexa, had also participated in the season and had left prior to this. 

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Now that PenaVega has departed, the three remaining celebrity contestants are Bindi Irwin (dancing with Derek Hough), Alek Skarlatos (dancing with Lindsay Arnold), and Nick Carter (dancing with Sharna Burgess).

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The Nov. 23 episode of “Dancing” was a high-scoring one. Irwin and Hough, PenaVega and Carson, and Carter and Burgess all earned perfect scores (30) for both of their routines. Skarlatos and Arnold were only slightly behind with scores of 27 and 30 for their performances.

The final episode of this season of “Dancing” will air on Nov. 24 and the winner of the show will be announced then.

“Dancing” has an unusual model compared to network dramas and sitcoms in that it ends its season as the holidays approach. Most network shows debut in September and air until May, often taking a break around December but not dividing their episodes into two separate seasons. 

By contrast, programs like “Dancing,” NBC’s singing competition “The Voice,” and CBS’s long-running reality competition “Survivor” usually air a fall season and a spring season each year. That’s how it’s possible for “Dancing” to be airing its 21st season despite having debuted in 2005.

Is this a good model? In terms of overall viewers, “Dancing” and “Voice” are still doing well in the ratings, ranking near the top of the list for broadcast network ratings for the 2014-2015 TV season. “Voice” is more of a novelty than “Dancing,” as “Voice” only debuted in 2011. 

Because reality shows are less expensive to produce than dramas or sitcoms, networks are able to do these two seasons a year. 

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This two-season idea also fits with the reality show format. It’s difficult to imagine a competition show like “Dancing” stretching from fall to spring. If a contestant is going to be eliminated frequently, keeping audience interest, a season can only last so many weeks.

Ratings for season premieres of, for example, “Dancing” have dropped since the show was newer in 2008 or 2009. However, ratings are usually similar no matter when the new season debuts – “Dancing” usually comes on the air in September or March. This past spring, the new season of the show debuted to 14 million viewers. The September before that, a new season was watched by 13.5 million.  

With “Dancing,” those behind the cameras seem to have found that having two seasons a year keeps viewers talking and that both seasons are still steady performers.


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