How Does ‘The Voice’ Work? Here’s Your Complete Guide to the NBC Show
From battles and blocks to steals and saves, here’s everything you need to know.
By Kelly O’Sullivan Oct 15, 2019
The Voice, NBC’s four-time Emmy Award-winning reality show, is back for its 17th season. This time around, the singing competition is lead by coaches Kelly Clarkson, Blake Shelton, John Legend, and Adam Levine‘s replacement Gwen Stefani.
Whether you’re a longtime Voice addict or a new fan of the show, the way it works can be pretty confusing. Its unique format features five stages: the Blind Auditions, the Battle Rounds, the Knockouts, the Playoffs, and the Live Performance Shows. Here’s a breakdown of all the rules, so you won’t miss a beat this season.
- BLOCKS: Each coach gets 1 block during the Blind Auditions.
- STEALS: Each coach gets 2 steals during the Battle Rounds. They get 1 additional steal during the Knockouts.
- SAVES: Each coach gets 1 save during the Battle Rounds and 1 save during the Knockouts.
The Blind Auditions
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The coaches hear the contestants sing, but they face away from the stage and don’t get to watch the performance. Each coach has the option to blindly push a button and turn their chair if they want an artist to be on their team. If more than one coach pushes their button for the same person, that contestant gets the chance to choose who they want to work with. If none of the coaches push their button, the contestant is eliminated.
The Blind Auditions also give coaches the option to “block” another coach one time during the entire process. Each of their chairs has an extra set of buttons with the other three coaches’ names. The block button prevents a coach from adding a new contestant to their team, even if they push the button to turn their chair. Advertisement – Continue Reading Below
There are six episodes of Blind Auditions (3 weeks long).
Once the coaches fill their teams from the Blind Auditions, they work with each of the artists to develop their skills. This season, they have the help of celebrity advisors: Normani joins Kelly, Usher is with John, Gwen will work with Will.i.am, and Blake is paired with Darius Rucker.
During the Battle Rounds, the coaches pit two of their own team members against each other and they sing the same song together. After their joint performance, the coach chooses which contestant will advance to the Knockouts. However, the losing singer’s journey may not end there: Each coach gets two chances to “steal” a contestant who wasn’t chosen by their own coach.
New to this season, coaches are also able to use one “save” to keep one of their own artists after a Battle.
There are four episodes of Battle Rounds (2 weeks long).
After the coaches narrow their teams down to the strongest members, the Knockouts begin. To prepare for this round, a universal advisor will be available to work with all of the coaches and team members. Much like the Battle Rounds, each contestant is paired directly against a teammate—but this time, they get to choose their own songs and perform individually, one after the other.
Again, the coaches determine the winner and rival coaches get one chance to “steal” a contestant who was not chosen. During this round, each coach also has an opportunity to “save” one of their team members that they had eliminated—but if someone else tries to steal them, then the contestant gets to pick which team they want to be on. Advertisement – Continue Reading Below
There are three episodes of Knockouts (2 weeks long).
During the Playoffs, 24 artists (six per team) compete against each other for a spot in the Live Performance Shows. Each contestant chooses their own song and performs individually, and the top two vote-earners on each team automatically advance. To fill the final position on their team, each coach selects one of their remaining artists to move on to the final phase of the competition.
There are three episodes of Playoffs (1 week long, all in a row).
Live Performance Shows
During the final rounds of the show, the top 12 performers compete against each other each week during a live broadcast, with a television audience voting for their favorites. The three singers with the lowest number of votes become eligible for the “Instant Save,” and have one final chance to perform a new song. Then, America can choose who to save by tweeting #VoiceSave and the performer’s name. Each week, the singers with the lowest number of votes are sent home, until only one artist remains. The Voice winner will receive a recording contract and a cash prize.
There is one episode for each of the top 12, 11, and 10 live performances, plus an elimination episode for each. Then, there is one episode for the top eight performances and one episode for the top four performances (the semi-finals and finale), plus an elimination episode for each. The Live Performance shows comprise 10 episodes spread out across five weeks total.