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‘Hairspray Live!’ Hits Ratings & Viewership Low For NBC’s Live Musicals – Update

Deadline logo Deadline 12/8/2016 Dominic Patten
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2nd UPDATE, 10:42 AM: Hairspray Live! has made its last shimmy so to speak with no change in the NBC musical’s demo results but a small uptick in viewers – and a new low for NBC. The 8 – 10:54 PM Craig Zadan and Neil Meron produced adaptation of the Broadway show based on John Waters cult movie was watched by 9.045 million last night.

That viewership and no change in the 2.3/8 18-49 rating makes Hairspray Live! the least successful of the live musicals that the Comcast-owned net has broadcast since starting with the blockbuster of Sound Of Music Live! on December 5, 2013. The previous low had been held by 2014’s Peter Pan Live!, which had a demo result of 2.4/7 and total viewership of 9.13 million. Not that NBC isn’t staying in the game – NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt announced in October that the net’s 2017 live holiday musical will be Bye Bye Birdie with Jennifer Lopez.

UPDATE, 9:04 AM: Maybe America was out holiday shopping but for the most part they weren’t watching television last night despite NBC’s Hairspray Live! (2.3/8) and the penultimate winter Season 3 episode of Empire (2.5/8).

While still holding the top spot among adults 18-49, the FOX hip hop drama fell to a new low on Wednesday – again. Down 11% from the fast affiliates of last week, which went up a tenth in the final numbers to match the show’s previous low, Empire also took the hit of being beaten for the very time by CBS’ Criminal Minds (1.3/5) in total viewers in the 9 PM time slot. The House of Moonves procedural drew a 7.73 million audience of 7.73 million to Empire’s 7.0 million. With lead-in Lethal Weapon (1.4/5) down 13% in the key demo from its November 30 show to a season low, FOX came in second among the 18-49s with a 2.0/7 rating and third in viewers with 6.62 million.

Though Hairspray Live! fell 30% in the demo from the fast affiliate results of NBC’s last primetime musical The Wiz Live!, the net still won the night in the 18-49 and total viewers with 8.92 million watching. Currently even with what Peter Pan Live! snared in the demo in fast affiliates on December 4, 2014, Hairspray Live! actually ran from 8 to 10:54 PM so adjustments could be greater than usual for such live events. In 2014, PPL! went up a tenth in the demo and ended up with 9.13 million watching.

As for the rest of the night on the Big 4 and the CW, Arrow (0.7/3) was unsparingly down from the heights of its crossover episode last week to it more average season results. Having said that, the Season 5 winter finale dropped 46% from its November 30 show and 30% from its Season 4 winter finale of December 9 last year. Lead-out Frequency (0.2/3) was down a tenth from last week.

Survivor (1.7/6) took an 11% whack for CBS while 10 PM’s Code Black (1.1/4) was actually up a tenth in a rare rise for the night, tying Designated Survivor (1.1/4) which was down two tenths to a season low on Wednesday. In its third consecutive week of audience growth, Code Black hit a season high viewership of 6.72 million. The earlier part of ABC’s line-up also saw declines and new lows for The Goldbergs (1.5/5), Speechless (1.3/5) and black-ish (1.2/4) as a Modern Family (1.1/4) repeat sat at 9 PM for the net.

PREVIOUSLY, 6:41 AM: There was singing, there was dancing, there was an ode to Divine, there was Jennifer Hudson, a live audience, viewing parties, a Billy Eichner cameo and Ariana Grande last night on Hairspray Live! but they just couldn’t ease on down the ratings road.

With a 5.9/10 result in metered market ratings, the Craig Zadan and Neil Meron produced adaptation of the Broadway show based on John Waters cult flick was no The Wiz Live! for NBC. On a Wednesday to stay out of the way of the NFL, Hairspray Live! is down 25% in MM ratings from the December 3, 2015 live version of the  Queen Latifah and Mary J. Blige starring show, the net’s last such live musical offering.

In fact, last night’s show is right on the money with the metered market results of 2014’s Peter Pan Live! – the lowest rated of all of NBC’s live musicals that started with the blockbuster Sound Of Music Live! in 2013. The December 4, 2014 Peter Pan Live! went on to earn a 2.4/7 rating among adults 18-49 and about 9.13 million viewers on that Thursday night. The NFL facing The Wiz Live!, which was also on a Thursday, ended up with 3.4/11 in the key demo and 11.5 million viewers.

Seeking a silver lining, NBC can at least say that in scoring a 2.6/9 among the 18-49s in local people meters, last night was the best the Comcast-owned net has done on a Wednesday since November 28 2012 – excluding Olympics coverage. The 8 – 11 PM Hairspray Live! also beat the night’s usual reigning champ Empire head-to-head in the 9 PM hour by 22% in MM results and 4% in 18-49 LPM.

Out of the December cycle that NBC has for its live musicals but worth a point of reference, FOX’s Grease Live! snagged a 7.4/11 in metered market results when it aired on January 31 this year. The net’s first foray into the live musical genre eventually pulled a 4.3/13 rating among the key demo and 12.18 million viewers overall.

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