CBS’ broadcast of Kennedy Center Honors clocked its lowest ratings result in people-meter history, dating back to 1987. The Tuesday 9-11 PM broadcast fumbled 28% of last year’s 8.620 million total viewers, to 6.169 million. The demo dive: 30% from last year’s 1.0 rating to 0.7. The 2006 telecast ran on the same Tuesday, December 27, though the extra day between the broadcast and Christmas might have benefited last year’s broadcast by separating it further from holiday distractions and travel.
The broadcast should have been a ratings humdinger, marking, as it did, the ceremony’s 40th anniversary and John F. Kennedy’s 100th birthday. But, for the first time in two decades, the President of the United States did not attend the ceremony, saying he and the First Lady were giving it a miss “to allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction” – which, loosely translated, means Donald Trump is not in perfect harmony with the arts community.
Too bad, because JFK’s daughter Caroline Kennedy gave maybe her zippiest-ever KenCen opening speech, talking about her father’s commitment to “the rule of law, to religious tolerance and racial justice, to nuclear disarmament and scientific innovation.”
Outside chance the number might adjust up enough in official nationals to challenge the prior total-viewer low: 2007’s 6.224 million, airing the day after Christmas that year.
CBS fared better at 8 PM, total viewer-wise, with an NCIS repeat (0.7, 7.168M). That said, Kennedy Center Honors won each of its half hours in total viewers against repeats and took both total viewers and the the demo from 10-11 PM against NBC’s Chicago Med rerun (0.5, 2.85M)) and ABC’s Kevin (Probably) Saves the World (0.4, 1.87M).
Elsewhere on the night, NBC’s strong 8 PM Ellen’s Game of Games (1.3, 6.002M) encore is a happier holiday story, suggesting the previous week’s preview ratings had been no fluke. The show’s ratings had been a nice surprise (1.7, 7.2M) following The Voice performance finale Monday night.
And, in other holiday programming news, ABC’s repeat Happy New Year, Charlie Brown (0.9, 4.08M) held steady compared to last year in the demo, and inched up 5% in total viewers. Same story for the network’s repeat of Rudolph’s Shiny New Year (0.7, 3.056M), which matched last year’s demo and climbed 4% in overall audience.
NBC (0.9, 4.309M) took primetime in the demo while CBS (0.7, 6.502M) ruled in total viewers. ABC (0.7, 3.002) tied for No. 2 in the demo but not so much in overall audience.
Fox (0.5, 1.994) finished fourth in both metrics, with repeats of Lethal Weapon (0.6, 2.54M), and back-to-back episodes of The Mick (0.5, 1.49M, 0.5,1.40M). The CW (0.2, 811K) aired repeats of The Flash (0.2, 813K) and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (0.2, 809K).