NBC’s Little Big Shots was Sunday’s big news, scoring network TV’s strongest debut among total viewers of the 2015-2016 season, scripted or unscripted, in its Sunday time-slot debut. The kiddie competition drew 14.8 million viewers to become NBC’s most-watched Sunday night regularly scheduled entertainment telecast (excluding post-Super Bowl shows) in more than a decade, since Law & Order: Criminal Intent on March 13, 2005 (15.715 million).
The night’s top Big 4 show in the demo (2.8) and total viewers retained 97% of last Tuesday’s preview in the demo, which benefited from a Voice lead-in. Little Big Shots seemed to be Daylight Saving Time impervious, as Sunday’s exercise in sleep deprivation performed its usual havoc on TV Sunday viewing; overall adult 18-49 TV usage was down Sunday night, week to week, by 3%-6%. In total viewers, Little Big Shots grew by 16% versus the preview’s 12.8M viewers.
Last night, Little Big Shots’ lead-in was a repeat of its Tuesday preview, on which it built by 133% in the demo (2.8 vs. 1.4). The 9 PM broadcast more than doubled its closest slot rival on the Big 4: 2.8 vs. 1.3 for ABC’s Once Upon A Time. (Even so, Once Upon A Time climbed 8% from last week’s midseason return in total viewers, 4.3 million vs. 4.0 million, and came in flat in the demo at 1.3.)
Expect Sunday’s LBS time-slot launch to grow substantially with delayed viewing. Hours before its 9 PM broadcast, NBC noted the show’s strong ratings start on Tuesday, had jumped by double digits in Live+3. The Steve Harvey-hosted program scored 14.65M viewers in the DVR metric, a 14% jump from 12.8M in Live+Same Day. The 1.84M delayed viewers is the biggest L+3 rise for an alternative-series premiere on any network; the previous record holder was Fox’s Cosmos in March 2014 (1.77M L+3 increase).
Executive produced by Ellen DeGeneres and Harvey, Little Big Shots features “young talent, from musicians, singers and dancers to a 4-year-old basketball phenom, a 5-year-old reincarnation of Bruce Lee and every form of wunderkind from around the globe.”
At 9, NBC’s The Carmichael Show fumbled more than half its Little Big Shots lead-in (1.3 and 5.6M viewers), but still commanded ratings in its slot. NBC’s Hollywood Game Night continued the slide, at 10 (0.9, 3.4M), settling in to third place.
NBC nonetheless finished first for the night among broadcasters with its 1.5 demo rating and 7.8M viewers, thanks to its talented tots.