Sunday’s telecast of the Miss USA pageant drew 925,000 viewers on Reelz — a whirlwind by the cabler’s standards but (unsurprisingly) a fraction of what the event drew in recent years on NBC.
NBC and Univision dropped the Miss USA pageant a few weeks ago following disparaging comments about Mexican immigrants made by Donald Trump, a part owner of the pageant. It moved to the small cable channel on July 2 — just 10 days before the event — and was also available online via the Miss USA website.
For Reelz’s part, it was able to acquire a well-known commodity at a low price point — and the event helped introduce the network to many viewers for the first time.
According to Nielsen estimates, the three-hour Miss USA telecast drew about nine times as many viewers that Reelz has been averaging from 8 to 11 p.m. on Sundays this summer (103,000). Miss USA drew nearly 5.6 million viewers on NBC last year when it aired in June opposite the NBA Finals.
A second airing at 11 p.m. on Sunday drew 248,000 viewers to bring the nightly Reelz total for the 2015 Miss USA Pageant to 1.273 million.
Reelz, in announcing the pickup, did not address Trump’s controversial remarks. A couple of days earlier, Trump filed a lawsuit against Univision demanding $500 million in the wake of the media company’s decision to drop Miss USA; Univision called the lawsuit “factually false and legally ridiculous.”
“The decision on the part of Reelz to acquire the rights to the Miss USA Pageant was based on our belief that this special event, and the women who compete in it, are an integral part of American tradition,” Reelz CEO Stan E. Hubbard said on July 2. “As one of only a few independent networks, we decided to exercise our own voice and committed ourselves to bringing this pageant to American viewers everywhere.”
According to Reelz, the network is distributed to 70 million U.S. homes via DirecTV, Dish Network, Time Warner Cable, Verizon FiOS TV, AT&T U-verse channels and smaller cable operators. The independent network, based in Albuquerque, N.M., is focused on entertainment and reality programming, with shows including “The Kennedys,” “Hollywood Hillbillies,” “Beverly Hills Pawn” and “Hollywood Scandals.”
Despite the smaller television viewership, Miss USA was a popular subject Sunday night on Twitter. According to Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings, its unique audience of 2.4 million (via 70,000 event-related Tweets) topped all non-sports programs for the week.
In Sunday’s ceremony, which aired live from Baton Rouge, La., Miss Oklahoma Olivia Jordan was crowned Miss USA.