There was much rejoicing by NBC suits Tuesday morning. Their long “When is Comcast gonna toss these NBC bums out?” ratings nightmare was over.
“The Voice” and “Revolution” — two of the three franchises that stunningly pulled NBC out of the cellar it had settled into many seasons ago and into first place in the fall — were back.
Armed with the two programs — two hours of the singing show and one hour of J.J. Abrams’s serialized kudzu-covered saga — NBC finished Monday night as the runaway fave among 18- to 49-year-old viewers (who are the unicorns of Madison Avenue), attracting nearly 5 percent of the population in that age bracket.
Among all viewers, NBC (11.3 million) finished behind only ABC (13 million).
The previous Monday night, NBC managed to attract just 6 million viewers with the aspirational “fat farm” show “The Biggest Loser” and rich folks murder mystery “Deception.” Just 2.2 percent of the nation’s 18- to 49-year-olds bothered to watch NBC’s prime time that Monday; in both metrics, NBC finished fourth.
That had been NBC’s story line for years, until last fall, when the network finally figured out what programming worked best for the two nights after its strong Sunday football franchise:
Armed with two nights of “The Voice,” and with a healthy assist from the Eric Kripke-created “Revolution,” NBC suddenly found itself in first place for the first time in, like, forever.
Sadly, football last aired on NBC in January, and “The Voice” and “Revolution” have been dark since the end of the November “sweep,” so NBC returned to the ratings underworld — like Persephone, only without the toga.
On Monday, NBC reemerged from its ratings inferno: From 8 to 10:01 p.m., the spring-season debut of “The Voice” opened bigger in both ratings metrics compared with its fall kickoff — despite the swap-out of two of the show’s more charismatic coach-judges, Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green, for competish newbies Usher and Shakira.
“The Voice” also beat its competitors in the key age bracket by hefty margins: 104 percent better than ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars,” 88 percent bigger than CBS’s comedy slate and 124 percent better than the Fox drama duo “Bones” and “The Following.”
And the singing competition grew steadily throughout its two-hour broadcast, which meant viewers liked what they saw — including the two added stars.
At 10:01 p.m., the return of “Revolution” finished first in its time slot among 18- to 49-year-olds (although about 3.4 million shy of time-slot front-runner “Castle” on ABC with all viewers).
But all was not perfect happiness at NBC.
“The Voice,” while attracting 13.4 million viewers, was down 30 percent compared with last spring’s time-period premiere demographically, and Monday’s showing was its lowest-rated spring premiere ever in the age bracket. On the other hand, it was the first time “The Voice” launched its spring edition after having had a fall edition. “The Voice” aired in the spring of ’11 and in spring of ’12.
And Fox wants you to know that Monday night’s “The Voice” premiere came in more than 4 million viewers shy of the “American Idol” Season 12 premiere a few weeks back and 22 percent smaller than “Idol” among 18- to 49-year-olds. “The Voice” also scored 33 percent fewer teenagers than the “Idol” kickoff did.
The rating for “Revolution” in the key age bracket was 7 percent smaller than its most recent original episode, in November, and 34 percent smaller than fall’s much-ballyhooed premiere.
Even so, it did nearly 70 percent better than NBC’s average in that hour on Mondays last season, NBC noted.
To get the real skinny on “Revolution,” we’ll have to wait to see how many people watch the return up to seven days later. “Revolution” is one of the most highly time-shifted shows on TV, growing an average of 62 percent in the fourth quarter, when “Live plus seven days” viewing is factored in.
To read previous columns by Lisa de Moraes, visit washingtonpost.com/tvblog.