'Smash' Crash Puts The Brakes On NBC's Recent Rise
NBC, what happened? Your "Smash" crashed.
“Smash” had last year’s second-best season premiere, a big Nielsen 3.8 rating among 18-49ers and 11 million viewers overall. Season two? Nearly 70% of the key 18-49 audience went elsewhere, and the show landed with a nearly microscopic preliminary 1.2 rating among 18-49ers and 4.5 million overall viewers.
Say what you want about not having a big lead-in from "The Voice" this year. These numbers aren’t good. "Smash," along with "The Voice" and "Revolution," were supposed to be part of NBC’s resurgence.
After a strong fall -- when NBC was number one thanks to "The Voice," "Sunday Night Football" and "Revolution" -- analysts were already expecting a tougher spring season for the network. But NBC executives probably weren't thinking about a “Smash” crash.
NBC decided to go into a different direction with the show this season and part with show creator and showrunner Theresa Rebeck. Maybe the alarm bells were already ringing.
Still, the marketing may also have gone wrong for the launch of “Smash”’s second season. Perhaps NBC could have gone deeper than it did this time around – following last year’s wall-to wall marketing blitz that included big promos in the Super Bowl. Some estimates say "Smash" received something akin to $25 million worth of network-valued promos for its premiere.
This time around saw some marketing push for a new character played by Jennifer Hudson, who would supplement Katharine McPhee’s and Megan Hilty’s ongoing off- and on-stage competition in the series about the back office maneuverings of a Broadway show. A four-minute-plus-long trailer was also used to introduce a new songwriter who would be a potential love interest for McPhee's character.
Some of the ratings drop could be due to viewers tiring of scripted TV musicals (but not of unscripted ones like "The Voice" and "American Idol"). Look at the decline of Fox's "Glee, though at least that show has a young audience that’s willing to hang in.
Is there a second act -- or third, here?