The Sound of Music Live is a hit! NBC’s live broadcast of the musical production may have had its issues, but ratings wasn’t one of them. The early numbers are in and it’s looking like The Sound of Music Live! came in far above CBS’ ratings in terms of primetime average. It also did particularly well in Carrie Underwood's home state of Oklahoma, with Oklahoma City winning out as the top metered market.
Deadline reports that The Sound of Music Live brought in a primetime average of 10.9/18 for NBC. And NBC just passed along the initial fast-affiliate ratings, stating that the broadcast earned a 4.6/13 in the 18-49 demographic, and a whopping 18.47 million viewers. Just for reference, that’s NBC’s best Thursday (not including sports) since ER wrapped up in 2009.
Hopefully, these strong early numbers will lead to NBC making a live musical broadcast an annual affair. If that’s a consideration, it’s entirely possible the network is already looking into it. This is just speculation, but news of Carrie Underwood’s casting came in at the end of last November last year. With that in mind, it’s not too soon to start talking about what show they could put on next year. Bye Bye Birdie? The Wizard of Oz? Or, going by the top metered market, how about Oklahoma?
My one request, should NBC be considering another broadcast like this, is that they cast actors with theatrical training — or at the very least, substantial experience acting and singing -- for the lead roles. I had my doubts about how well Carrie Underwood would pull off the role of Maria, and they weren’t unfounded. While she nailed the music side of the production her acting was passable at best. It wasn’t terrible, and it wouldn't have been a major problem if she was in a supporting role instead of the star of the production, or if this production had been a concert, but even if we weren’t holding her to the standard set by Julie Andrews, her acting performance was uneven and occasionally awkward.
I get why they cast Underwood. She has an incredible voice, she’s beautiful and she’s massively popular. In all likelihood, her presence contributed significantly to the success of the broadcast. But looking at the talent among the von Trapp kids, which were brought in through an audition process, added to the strong performances by the rest of the cast (including Stephen Moyer, Audra McDonald, Laura Benanti and Christian Borle), Underwood came up as the weak link among the cast, and I would’ve liked to have seen a version of this event that starred someone with equal parts acting and singing talent, rather than ample quantities of one and not much of the other. Maybe next time, assuming there is one. In the meantime, The Sound of Music Live was an ambitious endeavor, and one that seems to have paid off for NBC. So we'll have to wait and see if they decide to try it again next year.
Here are some of the musical highlights from the broadcast: