Halfway through its 12th season, Americas Got Talent is doing something extremely rare for a veteran show (regardless of genre).

Its actually gaining viewers.

The NBC series, which premiered back in 2006 (with host Regis Philbin), is averaging 13 million viewers since its May 30 season premiere as it heads into its live shows (Tuesday night at 8). It also tops all summer reality shows in both total viewers and adults 18-49.

[Those total viewership numbers rise to 15.2 million and 16 million vis-a-vis Live+3 and Live+7 data, respectively the latter a new series record.]

Meanwhile, AGT has racked up over 1.8 billion social media views this season (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube), triggered by Season 12s first Golden Buzzer contestant, 12-year-old singing ventriloquist Darci Lynne Farmer. She snared 274 million views on Facebook, breaking Grace Vanderwaals AGT record from last season (134 million Facebook views) in just 22 hours.

I have to be slightly careful here, says AGT creator/judge Simon Cowell, whose Golden Buzzer pick, deaf singer Mandy Harvey, has 183 million views on social media. If what I read is true, there could be over 10 either music or variety talent shows on the market. So why is [AGT] successful? I havent got a clue. Its all luck.

Atalent show works when you have talent, and theres only so much you could and should do.

Got Talent is a fairly straightforward format; the original number [of contestants] is reduced to around 8 and then we end up with one. I think if I wrote that down on paper as a format now, and walked into a network and AGT didnt exist, theyd be going, Wheres the trapdoor the contestants are gonna fall through when they cant sing?

Cowell says he had one big concern coming into this season the departure of longtime host Nick Cannon, who was replaced by Tyra Banks.

I was worried after Nick [Cannon] left because he was an incredible host, and then Tyra comes in and had a real impact. She gets the show, which is important. And weve kept [most of] the panel over the years which is really important, he says, alluding to Howie Mandel, Mel B and Heidi Klum. It wouldve been really easy to tear up the panel a couple of years ago because thats what people do but the chemistry works and they all love the show and love the contestants.

I watch [my fellow judges] out the corner of my eye when were filming to see how focused people really are and how much they genuinely care about the contestants and they do [care]. And, again, that makes a difference.

Americas Got Talent 8 p.m. Tuesday on NBC