The Voice SA finale voting glitch unpacked

2016-05-23 07:29

Cape Town - Richard Stirton was crowned the first ever Voice SA winner on Sunday night during a live TV broadcast from Sasani Studios in Johannesburg.

Although the show was packed with great performances it was once again a voting glitch that overshadowed the glitzy evening.

A few minutes before the winner was due to be announced, host Lungile Radu interrupted proceedings to say  that the votes cast during the night’s live broadcast would not be added to the final tally due to a technical problem.

How the voting worked

The voting lines for the eight remaining singers were open until Thursday night at 22:00. On Sunday during the live finale, Lungile announced the top four and once again opened the lines for viewers to vote for their favourite. The public could only vote via web, mobi and wechat.

The lines closed again at 18:00 and new votes were supposed to be included with the votes the talent collected during the first round of voting in the week.

However due to technical problems and the voting platforms not working, M-Net decided not to count any of the votes cast on Sunday and instead had to revert back to the votes cast during the week to determine the winner.

This meant that the top 4’s final performances did not have an impact on who won the final prize.

According to Lungile this decision was made in accordance with The Voice SA’s terms and conditions on their website.

Not the first time

This wasn’t the first time a voting failure hit The Voice SA. Earlier on in the competition the late delivery of 8 000 SMS votes through Vodacom saw 13 singers instead of 12 compete in one of the live shows.

In 2009 M-Net was mired in a viewers' voting scandal when Sasha-Lee Davids was announced as the winner of the 5th season of Idols although Jason Hartman was the real winner with 200 000 more votes that were not counted in time.

Technical voting problems also impacted Idols and the contestants in 2002, and again in the 10th season in 2014.

Update (Monday, 23 May at 08:00)

According to M-Net the voting platforms folded due to an avalanche of votes that were cast during the live show. The broadcaster added that it doesn’t know who the public voted for on Sunday night.

"Basically The Voice South Africa broke the internet on Sunday night," said Lani Lombard, M-Net's head of publicity, who said M-Net isn't sure of exactly what went wrong and why.

"There was a massive number of votes coming through on our voting platforms and as a result of that – as you know we are a responsible broadcaster – we are always very transparent what is going on in our voting platforms. And we work with our auditors as well, to make sure that the results are fair."

"Because of this we decided to go back to what the results were at the close of voting lines on Thursday night. And that is as per the terms and conditions. So if you go into the terms and conditions, it clearly says that if there are any technical issues, that we will go back to the previous votes."

"Just to make sure that you are absolutely clear about this: Tonight's votes would have been added to this week's votes."

Channel24 asked what exactly went wrong and what M-Net and the production did after the voting failure a few weeks ago to pro-actively prevent and if the pay-TV broadcaster shouldn't have enlarged capacity if contestants' songs started breaking online records on iTunes.

"All the issues we've had up until now were on the SMS platform. So that was the reason why we didn't do that as well [SMS voting] on Sunday because we know that the volumes can create a problem. We did test our capacity and quite a lot as well."

"We tested the voting volumes up until 36 000 votes per seconds. We're not exactly sure what went wrong tonight. It was some kind of a technical error somewhere. But we did have tests to make sure that it wouldn't happen. But despite that, it still did."

Channel24 asked when on Sunday M-Net and AMPN noticed that there were voting irregularities.

"It happened very soon; literally seconds, minutes after the voting lines opened. Some people did have access to the voting platforms, and others didn't have access," said Lani Lombard.

"People started posting comments on social media, so immediately we started investigating that. There are also backups, so we reverted to the backups to see if we could get it going again but it was too intermittent."

"So because we are a responsible broadcaster and because we're always transparent, we went with the fair option not to make the votes count".

"This is the fairest decision because you don't know how many people voted for whom. So it makes it very difficult to make a decision based on guessing work. The best possible thing was to revert back to the roll-over votes made until Thursday."

"It would be impossible to say how many votes went to the other contestants as well. I do think that we saw this week as well that Richard was number one on iTunes, he was extremely popular throughout the competition, and we could just have guessed how the voting would have gone tonight but it probably would have been very similar."

"We would have wanted all of the voting platforms to have worked 100%, so that is unfortunately how it happened," said Lani Lombard.

M-Net said it will release the voting data of votes cast until Thursday later.

READ NEXT: The Voice SA finale - Here’s how it went down!

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