Ratings Update: “Hairspray Live!” Sets New Low For NBC Musicals

Hairspray [NBC]

Update 2: It’s official: on a live+same-day basis, “Hairspray Live!” was the lowest-rated and least-watched NBC “Live!” musical yet.

According to final data posted by Showbuzz, Wednesday’s broadcast drew a 2.3 adults 18-49 rating and 9.05 million total viewers. The numbers narrowly trail the 2.4 rating and 9.41 million viewer figure posted by 2014’s “Peter Pan Live!,” which previously ranked as the weakest of NBC’s musical offerings.

Last year’s “The Wiz Live!” drew a 3.4 rating and 11.50 million, while “The Sound Of Music Live!” was in its own league with a 4.6 and 18.62 million in 2013.

Despite the “franchise low” tag, Wednesday’s “Hairspray” broadcast was still strong from a competitive standpoint. It ranked as the night’s #2 program in adults 18-49 (beneath “Empire,” 2.5) and #1 program in viewers.

Update: Based on preliminary data, “Hairspray Live!” is trending as NBC’s least-watched live musical.

According to fast national ratings posted by Showbuzz, the three-hour broadcast averaged a 2.3 adults 18-49 rating and 8.92 million total viewers.

The figures trail the 3.4 rating and 11.50 million mark garnered by last year’s “The Wiz Live!,” the 2.4 and 9.41 million mark drawn by 2014’s “Peter Pan Live!” and 4.6 and 18.62 million figure achieved by 2013’s “The Sound Of Music Live!”

It should be noted that fast national ratings are timeslot-based and cover the entire 8-11PM window. Since “Hairspray” actually ended a few minutes shy of 11PM, the data will be subject to a (likely upward) revision in the finals.

But the “viewership low” distinction even holds when compared to previous fast national figures. Prior to its upward adjustment, “Peter Pan Live!” clocked in with a 2.3 adults 18-49 rating and 9.1 million viewership sum.

Despite the drop in comparison to past musicals, “Hairspray Live!” did give NBC the primetime victory from 8-11PM. It was the #2 individual program in adults 18-49, losing only to FOX’s “Empire”.

Initial ratings data suggests “Hairspray Live!” performed more like “Peter Pan Live!” than “The Wiz Live!” (let alone “The Sound Of Music Live!”).

Citing metered market data, NBC says “Hairspray” drew a 5.9 overnight household rating. That trails the 7.9 drawn by “The Wiz” but precisely matches the 5.9 posted by 2014’s “Peter Pan.” “The Sound Of Music,” which launched NBC’s annual live musical series, drew a monstrous 10.9 in 2013.

NBC meanwhile notes that “Hairspray” drew a 2.6 adults 18-49 rating in the 25 markets with local people meters. Thanks to its big-city skew, “The Wiz” drew a disproportionately high 4.4 adults 18-49 in those markets, while “Peter Pan” posted the same 2.6. “The Sound Of Music” drew a 4.2.

NBC touts that “Hairspray Live!” won the night in the overnight households. It also won five of its six half-hours in adults 18-49.

The network also notes that “Hairspray Live!” fared especially well with female teens. Its preliminary 4.3 in that demo edges the 4.2 drawn by “The Wiz” and is only slightly below the 4.6 drawn by “The Sound Of Music.”

The “fast national” report containing preliminary adults 18-49 and total viewership figures is due by 11:10AM ET. It should be noted that this data will be based on the entire 8-11PM timeslot. Since “Hairspray” actually ended at 10:55PM, it will be subject to revision in the finals.

Written by Brian Cantor

Brian Cantor is the editor-in-chief for Headline Planet. He has been a leading reporter in the music, movie, television and sporting spaces since 2002.

Brian's reporting has been cited by major websites like BuzzFeed, Billboard, the New Yorker and The Fader -- and shared by celebrities like Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj.

Contact Brian at brian.cantor[at]

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