The Macy’s 4th Of July Fireworks Spectacular (1.1/6) wasn’t the only original programming on last night but the NBC special was the only one truly in the Independence Day holiday spirit. However, despite being given a pass by the weather on the East Coast, the 2-hour show hosted by America’s Got Talent’s Nick Cannon did not attract the audience of last year. Featuring performances from NYC and elsewhere by Miranda Lambert, Ariana Grande, Lionel Richie, Enrique Iglesias and the Zac Brown Band as well as lighting up the Manhattan skyline, the Fireworks Spectacular was down 27% among Adults 18-49 from last year’s show. In total viewers, last night’s show drew just 5.3 million compared to the 7.2 million of last year. Of course, July 4, 2013 fell on a Thursday not a Friday, where viewership is always lower so a drop was almost inevitable this year. We also might see adjustments to the live event when the final nationals come in early next week.
Having said that, while overall last night’s fireworks were a slide for NBC, there is a bright side in the sky and ratings for the network. The last time July 4th was on a Friday was back in 2008 when the fireworks were a 1-hour show from 9 – 10 PM. NBC didn’t extend the show to 2-hours until last year. Comparing hour to hour from last night to 6 years ago, the 2014 Fireworks Spectacular was actually up 18% among the key demo and 20% in total viewers to 6.5 million watching vs. 5.4 million in 2008. From 10 – 11 PM, NBC ran an edited version of the fireworks. That 1-hour show got a 0.9/4 among the 18-49 and 4.4 million viewers. That’s down 30% from last year’s edited repeat in the demo and 1.09 million less viewers overall. Needless to say, NBC won the holiday night with a 1.0/5 rating and 5.03 million viewers over primetime.
Unlike last year, ABC dared to brave the holiday primetime with new broadcasts. Not that there was traction to be had. At 9 PM, Primetime: What Would You Do? (0.6/2) was down 54% from last week’s show while 20/20 (0.8/4) fell 43%. Of course, on an evening of mostly encores, affiliates across the country on all of the Big 4 cut into national programming to show local fireworks displays – cause why wouldn’t they?