The Wiz Live! had a lot going for it last night. Solid performances, colorful costumes and backdrops and a fun, edgier book all helped The Wiz stand out where its two NBC predecessors did not. And instead of actively rooting against the production, a lot of people tuned in to see how youngster Shanice Williams would do in the lead roll. She rocked. And the ratings rocked, too.
Last night’s performance of The Wiz did a 4.4 rating in the 18-49 demographic in the 25 metered markets on NBC and a 3.3 rating in total markets. To give you an idea of how good that rating is, NBC noted that in metered markets, the network hasn’t had a Thursday night finale with that high of a turnout since ER aired its final episode back in 2009. In addition, the three-hour production was the highest-rated network program on a Thursday night in more than a year; the night How to Get Away With Murder premiered on ABC did better than The Wiz Live!, but again, that was more than a year ago. Since most shows are happy if they do a 1.7 rating or so rating and ecstatic if they do more than a 2.0 rating, a 4.4 is achieving quite above and beyond the status quo. In addition to the big ratings, we know a little over 11.1 million viewers tuned in.
When NBC released The Sound of Music Live! a couple of years ago, people flocked to the live program, which aired during a time when a lot of fall TV shows are wrapping up for the season. Last year’s Peter Pan Live! was not nearly as warmly received in the ratings, leading many to believe that the popularity of live performances of stage productions was a one-off thing. As it turns out, the old-fashioned Peter Pan Live! may have simply been the wrong choice by NBC last year, as many household seemed to be more favorably excited about The Wiz Live!.
In comparison, last year’s Peter Pan Live! did a 2.3 rating in the 18-49 demographic. The Sound of Music ended up with a 4.6 rating in the 18-49 demographic, so it did best last night’s The Wiz Live! turnout in the advertising demographic. However, a lot of people notoriously tuned in to watch The Sound of Music simply to poke fun at Carrie Underwood’s acting skills. Last night, people seemed genuinely excited about what The Wiz had to offer.
Along with Williams, David Alan Grier, Amber Riley, Common, Queen Latifah, Stephanie Mills, Mary J. Blige, Orange is the New Black's Uzo Aduba, Ne-Yo and more starred in the production. The live aspect went off with very few hitches and I'm guess NBC will give another one of these a go next year.
While NBC has had some time to work out the kinks when filming a live production, Fox is giving the same sort of thing a try this winter when Grease Live! hits the schedule. Find out what else TV has coming up, here. If you missed The Wiz Live!, NBC is currently making it available online.