The Playoff Pass Is Now a Vital Component of 'The Voice,' but How Does It Work?

"The Playoff Pass is the highest honor we've ever given to an artist on 'The Voice,'" Kelly Clarkson said of the powerful tool.


Mar. 19 2024, Updated 1:47 p.m. ET

So far, in the 25 seasons of The Voice, the reality singing competition has routinely changed its format to suit the needs of its competitors. During Season 3, coaches were allowed to "steal" contestants from others during the Battle Rounds, while Battle Rounds were also changed to Knockout Rounds in Season 16. During Season 14, a "Block" button was implemented so coaches could potentially keep one another from certain contestants.

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Another element that was introduced is the Playoff Pass, which closely resembles that of the golden buzzer of America's Got Talent. So, how does the Playoff Pass work on The Voice? Keep reading for everything you need to know about how the format works.

'The Voice' judges sitting in their chairs.
Source: NBC
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How does the Playoff Pass work on 'The Voice'?

The Playoff Pass, which was first introduced in Season 23, comes into play during the Battle Rounds. Coaches are given one Playoff Pass each, and if they decide to use it, it allows two singers in a Battle to advance, with the main recipient skipping the Knockouts and going straight to the Playoffs.

Season 23 judges (Kelly Clarkson, Chance the Rapper, Blake Shelton, and Niall Horan) were the first to break down what exactly a Playoff Pass is (and how important they are) in a promotional video for The Voice. "This year for the first time ever, we have the Playoff Pass," Blake explained during Season 23.

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"It gives the artist a chance to skip the Knockout Round and go directly to the Playoffs," Blake concludes. The video shows both Blake and Niall using the "Playoff Pass" button, where streamers and bright lights illuminate the stage.

Kelly added, "The Playoff Pass is the highest honor we've ever given to an artist on The Voice. They both get to stay, but one gets to skip a whole round."

Source: YouTube/NBC
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Chance also went into how the Playoff Pass works, saying, "This round, every coach has one Playoff Pass and one steal." That's not to say that Playoff Passes couldn't become a bigger element in the Knockout Rounds in future seasons, but for the meantime, they're precious and not to be used lightly.

The Playoff Pass can be utilized to override a Steal.

As fans will recall, on The Voice, the Knockout Rounds have two contestants from the same team pitted against one another. Each contestant chooses a different song and performs their best, but the coaches collectively decide which player stays and which one leaves. To skip the Knockout Rounds means that a performer would also have to be extremely confident in their abilities.

Overall, it seems as though the coaches plan to use the incentive of a Playoff Pass to encourage their artists to step up their games so that, in the words of Niall, "no one goes home."

Make sure to catch new episodes of The Voice airing on Mondays at 8 p.m. EST and Tuesdays at 9 p.m. EST on NBC.

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