Holy Moly, A Lot Of People Watched Dolly Parton's NBC Movie

There’s nothing like the holiday season for made-for-TV movies. With many regular series on hiatuses until 2016, and viewer heartstrings just waiting to be plucked, nothing compares to a made-for-TV movie to fill an evening. NBC managed to do just that for a shocking amount of viewers with Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors on December 10.

Coat of Many Colors drew in 12.84 million viewers and a respectable 1.8 rating in the valuable 18–49 demographic, according to Deadline. The movie was based on the Dolly Parton song of the same name that was inspired by her upbringing in Tennessee. Coat of Many Colors was the first in what will be a series of NBC movies based on popular Dolly Parton songs. Next up will be a special based upon “Jolene.”

The numbers are particularly impressive for Coat of Many Colors, considering that the official trailer made the movie look like basically the saddest thing ever. Sure, no holiday film is complete without some level of heartbreak to be overcome by the final credits, but Coat of Many Colors looked as though producers at NBC had filled in a Mad Lib with only the saddest nouns and verbs in the dictionary. Check it out!

Luckily, viewers were not so bummed out by the trailer that the drawing power of Dolly Parton failed to park them on the couch for an evening. Although Coat of Many Colors was by no means a traditional musical, it may have benefited by the wild success of The Wiz Live! that absolutely dominated in the ratings the previous week. Either way, NBC producing ambitious content for television has turned out to be pretty great for the network this holiday season.

In fact, Coat of Many Colors enabled NBC to win the night in the game of television ratings. It was the most-watched movie on broadcast TV in three and a half years, since Jesse Stone: Benefit Of Doubt drew in 12.93 million viewers for CBS in May of 2012. It was also the highest-rated movie among viewers in the 18–49 demographic in nearly five years, since The Lost Valentine earned a 2.3 rating in January of 2011 for CBS.

The numbers for Coat of Many Colors are in no way a guarantee of success for the rest of the made-for-TV movies in the Dolly Parton lineup, but the ratings for the first installment may mean that NBC has found the perfect recipe for sentimental success in the holiday season.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).