NBC continued to find a television audience for live musical productions with “The Wiz Live!,” which aired Thursday night. The network announced that the broadcast almost tripled NBC’s season average, excluding sports, for the key 18-49 demo on Thursday nights.
Citing Nielsen overnight data, NBC announced that “The Wiz” delivered an average of 11.136 million total viewers with a 3.3 average rating in 18-49 for its 8-10:45 p.m. ET time period.
The numbers were up significantly from “Peter Pan Live!” a year ago, which delivered 9.211 million total viewers and a 2.4 average rating in 18-49. But the high-water mark for NBC’s recent live musical productions remains the broadcast that got the ball rolling two years ago, “The Sound of Music Live!” That production delivered a 4.6 in the demo with 18.624 million total viewers.
“The Wiz Live!,” with unknown actress Shanice Williams in the lead role of Dorothy, has been receiving mixed reviews, but they’re generally more favorable than either of the network’s two previous live musical productions.
Variety’s Brian Lowry sums it up this way: “Grading on a curve, ‘The Wiz’ ranks as the most satisfying of NBC’s three efforts — an accomplishment, since it’s hardly on a par with ‘The Sound of Music’ on the honor roll of classic musicals. Yet for a story that begins with a house falling out of the sky, this third attempt to ease Broadway into primetime was again marked by a sense that, in this format, it’s very difficult to completely bring the house down.”