“The Sound Of Music” comes alive – with ratings

A billboard for "The Sound Of Music" in Los Angeles.
A billboard for “The Sound Of Music” in Los Angeles. (DailyBillboard.com)

In other news, rushed Ventra card special on WTTW strikes out 

A lot of people were hating it on social media (including yours truly), but viewers were fleeing into the entrances Thursday night to see Carrie Underwood in a live staging of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound Of Music Live! on NBC.

The three-hour special – the first live network staging of any scripted drama since CBS’ Fail Safe on April 9, 2000, drew numbers that would take you back to NBC’s Must-See TV heyday – 18.62 million viewers – the largest NBC viewership on Thursday night since the 2004 Fraiser finale, and a 4.6 rating among adults 18-49, the highest rating for NBC on Thursday since the ER finale in 2009. Music was up a whopping 319 percent from NBC’s current Thursday average.

Usual Thursday night frontrunner The Big Bang Theory finished with a 4.8 rating in the 18-49 demo – a weak episode with a rather pointless Wil Wheaton cameo. Big Bang was down 13 percent from its last original airing (Nov 21), but it did barely beat Music’s first half-hour.

On the other hand, ABC’S Scandal was not affected, up 7 percent from its last original episode (also Nov. 21) with a 3.1.

In Nielsen’s overnight markets, Music dominated with a 10.9 HH rating, finishing first in all 56 metered markets, including Chicago (9.1). Even more impressive, Music even outrated the Houston Texans-Jacksonville Jaguars game in both teams’ markets (of course, both teams stink, so that helps.) Oklahoma City ranked first among all metered markets (Carrie Underwood is originally from Oklahoma.)

Even cats weren't impressed with Carrie Underwood's acting.
Even cats weren’t impressed with Carrie Underwood’s acting.

Reviews, as expected, were mixed: as opposed to those on social media, message board commenters on this morning praised the production values of the show, suggesting Music drew viewers who regularly don’t watch prime-time TV live or at all –  not to mention the popularity of Grammy Award (and Idol) winner Carrie Underwood (yeah, I don’t understand it, either.)

On the other hand, many critics and viewers slammed Underwood for her acting skills. Many suggested Anne Hathaway would’ve been a better choice.

– If anything should be criticized Thursday night in addition to Carrie Underwood’s acting, it should be local public television station WTTW’s “town hall” meeting on Chicago Tonight to discuss the failure of the Ventra Transit Card, a new contactless payment system for CTA and Pace transit riders that’s been causing problems for commuters since it was introduced.

While Phil Ponce and company did all they could, the presentation felt rushed due to Chicago Tonight being cut to a half-hour due to it being a beg-a-thon (pledge) period, which is not enough time to discuss an issue affecting thousands of Chicago and suburban transit riders. Even worse, WTTW scheduled the Ventra special on a huge night of network TV. Much like the card itself, Chicago Tonight’s “town hall” meeting gets a failing grade.