Grease will be the word in the halls of Fox this week. The network’s three-hour live telecast of the musical was a ratings success.
Nielsen has the performance averaging 12.2 million viewers and a handsome 4.3 rating among adults 18-49. That’s after early numbers have the performance averaging a 7.4 overnight rating among households. That gives it first-place status on broadcast for the night and puts its preliminary stats only a little shy of the TV’s most recent musical outing in December.
This being Fox’s first live musical, its only ratings comparisons will be to NBC’s last three efforts. Topping the first of them, 2013’s The Sound of Music Live, was an all-but-impossible task. The show attracted 18.3 million live viewers and a 4.6 rating with adults 18-49 after an initial 10.9 overnight rating among households. 2014 follow-up Peter Pan sunk, but December’s The Wiz rebounded a bit with 11 million viewers.
Heading into Sunday night, falling in the ratings vicinity of The Wiz was the most realistic best-case scenario for Grease.
Based on ratings alone, Fox certainly has the motivation to make musicals an annual event as well — though, the general critical response sets an intimidatingly high bar. Director Thomas Kail, of Hamilton fame, brought quick praise for putting Grease on multiple soundstages and outdoor areas in front of a live audience.