December 06, 2013 8:05am PT by Michael O'Connell
TV Ratings: NBC's 'Sound of Music Live' Sings With 18.5 Million Viewers
NBC's big bet on a live telecast of The Sound of Music looks like it paid off. The network, which hasn't won a Thursday night once this season, topped primetime with its three-hour performance of the stage musical.
Fast National returns have The Sound of Music averaging a 4.6 rating among adults 18-49 and 18.47 million viewers. Easily the most watched program of the night, it tied CBS' The Big Bang Theory in the demo. The last time NBC fared that well on a Thursday, excluding sports, was during the 2009 series finale of ER.
TV REVIEW: The Sound of Music Live!
What might be most impressive about The Sound of Music is how well it sustained its audience over the course of the lengthy telecast. The show hit a high at 8:30 with a 5.0 rating in the demo, losing some viewers through the night and ultimately landing on a 4.2 with adults 18-49.
The Sound of Music, starring Carrie Underwood as musical nun-turned-nanny Maria, aired live on the East Coast -- with a rebroadcast airing during pacific time. In the works for some time, it's been a passion project for NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt and came with a hefty price tag. It was executive produced by Broadway vets Neil Meron and Craig Zadan, the team behind NBC's less successful musical gamble Smash. The network aggressively promoted the event, airing a "Making Of" special on Thanksgiving eve and signing with Walmart for an exclusive ad deal.
The night's runner-up was typical Thursday victor CBS. The network, averaging a 2.5 rating with adults 18-49 and 9.5 million viewers for the night, saw The Big Bang Theory tie The Sound of Music in the demo -- though it was down 13 percent from its last showing to a season low. The Millers (2.5 adults) fell by three-tenths of a point and The Crazy Ones (2.1 adults) was off by a tenth. Two and a Half Men (2.3 adults) improved by two-tenths of a point from its last showing. Elementary (1.8 adults) held even.
Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (1.0 adults) inched up by a tenth of a point from its last ABC broadcast, while Grey's Anatomy (2.4 adults) dipped two-tenths to another series low. Scandal (3.1 adults) was undeterred by the competition. The 10 p.m. drama improved by three-tenths of a point from its last original, two weeks ago. ABC averaged a 2.2 rating with adults 18-49 and 6.6 million viewers.
Fox especially saw stronger competition for the night, with The Sound of Music likely sating much of the appetite for singing. Still, The X Factor (1.3 adults) and Glee (1.1 adults) both improved from last week's Thanksgiving lows. The duo were up a respective three- and two-tenths of a point. And Fox averaged a 1.2 rating with adults 18-49 and 3.99 million viewers for Thursday.
Airing its winter finale, The Vampire Diaries (1.0 adults) shed three-tenths of a point from its last original. Reign (0.6 adults) was also down, losing a tenth of a point. The CW averaged a 0.8 rating among adults 18-49 and 1.96 million viewers.