A week before Christmas Eve, it was a very busy Sunday — and we don’t mean just with the shopping and packing some of you are still working on. With a hard-fought and potential playoff preview New England Patriots-Pittsburgh Steelers game on CBS owning the earlier part of the evening, it was NFL football vs. the live musical tradition on the Big 4 last night as Sunday Night Football and A Christmas Story Live! went head-to-head.
Thing is, it wasn’t much of a battle. Live from Burbank, Fox’s holiday TV rendition of the Broadway show — based on the 1983 pic, which was derived from the 1966 book In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash — certainly lost something in translation. It also didn’t lay a Christmas glove on NBC’s Dallas Cowboys-Oakland Raiders game for drama or ratings. In metered market numbers, SNF snagged a 12.3 rating, while A Christmas Story Live! pulled a mere 2.8.
To put it another way, the big-draw Cowboys’ nail-biting 20-17 win over the Raiders bopped up 6% in the early numbers over last week for another Sunday night win for NBC. Whereas, with its generally unfamiliar tunes, the Matthew Broderick-starring musical was down 62% from the metered market results of Grease Live, which was Fox’s previous foray into live musicals.
Or to really put it another way, with some of the lowest number of the recent spat of network live musicals, A Christmas Story Live! was beaten by 7% by an annual encore of the 1965 The Sound Of Music movie — not the high-rated live musical NBC broadcast on December 5, 2013, kicking off this small-screen live musical semi-tradition, but a repeat of the Julie Andrews-Christopher Plummer classic – ouch! At least Fox can take some solace in the fact Christmas Story was a top trend on social media last night.
It has to be noted that the fairly successful Grease Live on February 1,2016 did not face a Sunday Night Football, as A Christmas Story Live! did, but a fourth-place finish for Fox last night may have the net reconsidering this whole live musical thing, Disney deal or not.
Pulling focus a bit wider, Dallas’ victory on SNF took a tackle of 20% in MM numbers from the Cowboys’ slightly bigger victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on December 18, 2016. That 8:30-11:27 PM ET matchup went on to deliver an 8.1/26 rating and an impressive 24.15 million viewers.
Last week’s Baltimore Ravens-Steelers SNF game ended up with a 5.4/19 demo result and an audience of 17.20 million.
As always, here’s another number to ponder from the metered markets. Last night’s SNF peaked in the final minutes (when Dallas pulled ahead for good) with a 13.4 in the 11:30-11:45 PM ET slot, up 12% over the peak of the December 10 Ravens-Steelers game.
Right now, in non-adjusted fast affiliates, the Cowboys win of last night has a 5.2/18 rating among adults 18-49 with 16.75 million viewers. That gives NBC an easy victory for the night with a 4.4/15 rating and an audience of 14.25.
Rising Fox’s usual Sunday night average by around 24%, the three-hour Christmas Story Live! hit a 1.5/6 demo result with 4.48 million tuning in. Down a very hard 65% in fast affiliates 18-49 from 2016’s Grease Live, last night’s live musical is ahead of the Sound of Music (0.8/3) movie repeat by 87% in the first round of the key demo. However, when it comes to sets of overall eyeballs, Christmas Story was topped by SoM by almost 2% with 4.54 million watching the annual ABC broadcast encore. Without NFL opposition, Grease Live had 12.18 million viewers, by the way.
CBS’s night is a little all over the shop because of the overrun of that Patriots vs. Steelers battle. Actually, with a 30-minute delayed start to the net’s primetime, it looks like there will be adjustments there all round. As it is right now, with almost everybody up, 60 Minutes got a 2.8/10, Wisdom of the Crowd had a 1.1/4, NCIS: Los Angeles drew a 0.9/3 and a 10:30 – 11:30 PM ET Madam Secretary was the same as last week with a 0.7/3.
Christmas next week!