And the numbers are in: NBC's live presentation of "The Sound of Music" is officially one of network TV's -- not just NBC's -- glowing triumphs of the year: 18.5 million viewers. Over three hours.
Let me make this plain and clear: Network TV, except for football, just doesn't get this kind of crowd anymore. I can assure you - they are celebrating at "30 Rock," as well they should. This was a gamble that paid off, and paid off handsomely -- especially in social media, which was just off the charts last night. Love this live presentation -- which I mostly did -- or jeer (some tweeters did that too) people were clearly intrigued, and mostly happy with what they saw. Yes, Carrie Underwood has a huge fan base, and doubtless it turned out in force for her. But the "Sound" franchise has an even bigger one. The double effect, along with the uniqueness of a live venture, made this thing explode.
Why a triumph for "network TV?" Because it essentialy proves that old idea of a "national hearth" still has a certain vitality to it -- if the program is right. One little irony, perhaps, is that a live presentation like this -- not done in half a century -- was lifted directly from the Old Days. It wasn't some newfangled gimmick.
Some more stats...
- Most tuned in during the 8 p.m. -- expected -- although the vast majority of the 19.7 million viewers who were watching at the peak time, 8:30, stayed around until the end: A total of 17 million viewers were watching at 11, according to "Fast National" Nielsen figures yesterday.
-Thursday's win for NBC wasn't merely unusual but essentially unprecedented in recent years -- perhaps many years -- as it's struggled on what was once a bread-and-butter night. Some reports yesterday indicated that this was the highest performance on the night since "ER's" April 2, 2009 finale. But "Sound of Music" exceeded that performance -- 16.2 million viewers over two hours.
- According to NBC, "With 18.470 million viewers, it’s the NBC’s most watched non-sports night on any night of the week since Jan. 15, 2007 (Golden Globes, 20.036 million)."