'The Masked Singer' Announces Major Format Change for Season 3

In just about a year, The Masked Singer has become the most talked-about reality TV competition series around, and shows executive producer just recently announced a major format change for Season 3. During a conversation with Variety, Craig Plestis — who developed the series for U.S. audiences — revealed that the show will start out with 18 contestants in Season 3. Notably, Season 1 featured only 12 contestants. Season 2 increased to 16 contestants.

The plan for Season 3's 18 singers is to split them up into three groups of six, then whittle down the first group to three. The same will happen next for groups two and three. Eventually, all three groups will be merged into a Top 9, and those singers will go on to compete against one another.

Plestis compared the concept to a March Madness brackets, explaining, "It's almost like a sports event." This format will also likely increase how much viewers find themselves trying to guess the identities of the singers, which Plestis says 'is the reason the show exists.'"

He continued: "Obviously there's the singing, there's the spectacle. It's the family viewing. But at the core, it's the guessing. So we're putting more opportunities for America to guess within the franchise."

However, producers will also be making the clue packages a lot harder this season as well, if partially due to the fact that Plestis and his team were very careful to not just fill the roster with famous or well-known singers. "We love the idea of someone who has secret talent. And we're really blessed this season by having a lot of contestants that have secret talents," he said.

Plestis also revealed that the singers are starting to learn tricks that will help them keep viewers guessing. "They've all seen the show. So now they want to disguise their voice. They don't want to sing in their genre. They're very careful about body movement. The game is actually much harder this season because the contestants are making it hard. They don't want to be uncovered. Everyone came in saying, 'I want to play this game. I'm gonna win it. They're never going to guess who I am.'"

When Season 3 debuts, fans will get a chance to see frequent guest panelist Jamie Foxx sitting in with the judges, something "he wanted to do" that Plestis says they were "lucky" for.

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"He tells a great story of why he wanted to do it in the first episode, about his mom. Watching him on the panel listening and figuring stuff out as a first-time panelist, he was phenomenal. I was blown away by his guesses and his reasoning," Plestis added. "He's such a master of pop culture and knows almost everyone anyway. So he's really listening to voices, he's analyzing all the clues, and piecing it together like a detective that has done this a thousand times."

Season 3 of The Masked Singer premieres Sunday, Feb. 2, immediately following Super Bowl LIV. It will then go on to its regular Wednesday evening time slot, starting Feb. 5.