America Still Loves ‘Lucy’ As 8.7 Million Watch Colorized CBS Special

I love Lucy Christmas Special

Repackaged pair of episodes from '50s series dominates among older viewers, wins in 18-49 too

CBS dug into its vaults on Friday night and drew more than 8 million viewers for the “I Love Lucy Christmas Special.”

The hourlong spec, featuring colorized versions of two episodes from the classic B&W series from the ’50s, averaged a 1.4 rating/5 share in adults 18-49, making it the top show of the night in this demo — even if none of these viewers were around to see any of “I Love Lucy’s” original run on the Eye.

Though a 5 share is solid in this day and age, Friday’s special did a 7 share among adults 25-54. And among those 55 and older, it commanded 14% of all viewing in the night’s 8 o’clock hour.

In total viewers, the “I Love Lucy Christmas Special” averaged 8.7 million viewers to easily win its timeslot. The only programs to draw larger audiences on the night were the ones that followed it on CBS: original episodes of “Hawaii Five-0” (9.4 million) and “Blue Bloods” (10.2 million).

Friday’s special featured the once-thought-lost Christmas episode that never aired in syndication as well as the memorable episode when Lucy stomped grapes in Italy in preparation for an acting role. CBS colorized the episode with a “vintage look” in a “nod to the 1950s period in which the shows were filmed.”

There wasn’t much else fresh airing on Friday night, but ABC managed a tie with CBS for the night’s leadership in adults 18-49 thanks to two repeats of “Shark Tank” and a fresh “20/20” (1.2/4 in 18-49, 5.5 million viewers overall).

NBC hung in there with another airing of “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1.1/4 in 18-49, 5.4 million viewers overall), leaving the Peacock close behind CBS and ABC in 18-49.

Fox aired repeats of crime drama “Bones” (0.8/3 in 18-49, 2.6 million viewers overall) and the special “Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown” (0.8/2 in 18-49, 1.9 million viewers overall).

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  1. Keith Coppage says:

    Omg if it takes colorization to get classic comedy front and center and showcase real performers and not some racist redneck who’s become a media darling, do it CBS. Job Switching, Pioneer Women, Last– send ’em to the lab. Van Dyke and Andy & Barney too. Get going. Why do you think these shows are evergreen? Come on now.

  2. I’m only 35 and I would have loved to see it, colour and all! Sadly we are in ice storm zone and have the ice covered dish on our roof isn’t picking up any signals. I do hope they air it again and with some promos.

  3. Robin MacArthur says:

    Sounds like a great show – I’ve always loved Lucy. Too bad there was so little promotion, if we had known it was airing, many more would have watched . Why hide it??

  4. Eli says:

    I’m not sure why everyone is pissed over it being in color, it was shot in color originally but broadcasted in black and white. and though CBS promoted this as “the first time in color!!!” I have a VHS tape from when CBS ran this same color episode in 1988!! my parents showrd it to me and my brothers every year after.

    • Frank russo says:

      Both episodes were originally filmed in black and white and later colorized. This includes the VHS episode you had from 1988. This was the first time we got to see Lucy’s Italian Movie episode in color . So when cbs promoted the show as first time in color they actually met the second episode because we had already seen the first one colorized years ago.

  5. Ken from Toronto says:

    Wonderful, unexpected programming from the Tiffany Network!! Maybe CBS can dig into its vaults and provide us with special presentations of vintage DICK VAN DYKE SHOW, ANDY GRIFFITH, MAUDE, BOB NEWHART and more I LOVE LUCY episodes!!! A real treat.

    But lose the colorization, please!

    Thanks, CBS!

  6. SFSolstice says:

    It was great for us older viewers to see what the show might have looked like in color and for the younger audiences to actually experience what B&W 50’s television viewing was like. It was a stroke of genius to present both formats thereby allowing for a total viewing experience for all generations both younger and a bit older.

    I can just here the youngsters laughing and enjoying some traditional family time with the generations gathered around the TV.

    Do you realize that most of the audience in the target demo 18-49 wasn’t even alive when these episodes were filmed and shown on CBS TV?
    WOW ! Now that’s true nostalgia at its very best. Overall, a big plus for both generations.

    AND Lucky looked very nice in her Christmas flannel shirt.
    Great Call CBS!

  7. kamiamaya says:

    That’s great it got so many viewers, but colorized versions? Nonono, that’s as bad as changing aspect ratios of older shows to fit today’s widescreen TVs. In other words, do not want!

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