How “The Amazing Race” Has Lasted for 30 Seasons

Most people who haven’t lived in a cave and turned on their television once in the past decade have at least heard of The Amazing Race. It is owned by CBS and has been a consistent ratings performer, averaging 10 million viewers per episode. When you compare that to the 2017-2018 season of the NFL, whose Thursday Night Football broadcasts on the three networks (NFL Network, CBS, and NBC) averaged 10.937 million viewers and ESPN’s Monday Night Football averaged 10.757 million viewers, it is easy to see how popular The Amazing Race actually is.

The show combines the best of everything that makes a television program successful. Here are the major reasons the show has continued strong for 30 seasons.

1. It is an adaptable reality TV show.

We know how reality TV has changed the face of network programming, and though the genre is beginning to wane, The Amazing Race manages to keep the race fresh for its viewers. In the current year’s competition, “Head-to-Head” competitions were introduced, copying an idea that has already been used in international versions of the show.

2. It’s a sports show.

Americans love their sports, but The Amazing Race is not just about running. It introduces a number of team challenges and competitions, and requires the ability to think creatively and navigate a wide variety of people from different cultures along the way. This not only challenges the contestants, it also challenges the viewers, giving the audience the feeling that they too are part of the event.

3. The seasons are 8 — 10 weeks long.

Even though it is a reality show, producers of The Amazing Race have put together 30 seasons of success by copying a concept from the NFL — short seasons. Compare the length of the other major sports: NFL — 17 weeks of regular season games; the NBA, 82; Major League Baseball, 162; the NHL, 82. Then there are several weeks of playoffs before a champion is decided. By the time the last couple of weeks of the seasons of these major sports leagues come around, viewers are begging for the playoffs to begin. The Amazing Race has viewers in and out in a tidy 10 weeks.

4. The teams are multidimensional.

It’s pretty hard to find any type of discrimination in the makeup of the two person teams. This 30th year has the following team makeup:

  • Cody and Jessica, who are dating
  • Lucas and Brittany, Lifeguards who are dating
  • Trevor and Chris, a pair of dating violinists
  • Cedric and Shawn, two former NBA players
  • Kristi and Jen, both professional skiers
  • Alex and Conor, two IndyCar drivers
  • Joey and Tim, Competitive Eaters (we’re not sure if this is an actual sport or not)
  • Henry and Evan, Debaters who are dating (ditto)
  • Eric and Daniel, twins
  • April and Sarah, Goat Yoga moms
  • Dessie and Kayla, models

The background of the contestants is so diverse it’s hard to pick a clear winner from day one. (Two pairs have already been eliminated as we head into week 3, so if you haven’t been watching take a guess and tune in.)

If you look at this list and take away any one of these reasons for the show’s longevity, it is more than likely the show would have ended long ago. Other reality shows have come and gone because they lack the multidimensional features The Amazing Race has cobbled together. For the show’s viewers, there is ample time to discuss and debate the race, the personalities, the visited countries, and the decisions each team makes over each 10 week season.

The possibility of 50 seasons is not so far fetched.

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