‘The Wiz Live’ Ratings Strong: NBC Musical Draws 11.5 Million Viewers

The Wiz Live! NBC
Courtesy of NBC

It's Also the Most-Tweeted Live Special Program on Record

Two years after NBC stunned the industry with boffo ratings for its live presentation of “The Sound of Music,” the network was back at it Thursday night with “The Wiz Live,” which drew impressive numbers of its own. The event also set a Nielsen Twitter record as most social live special program in the more than four years of tracking such numbers  — generating more reactions than NBC’s two prior musicals combined.

Despite facing a highly rated NFL game on CBS, last night’s live musical, whose all-star cast included Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige and David Alan Grier, averaged a 3.4 rating/11 share in adults 18-49 and about 11.5 million viewers overall from 8 to 10:45 p.m.,  according to preliminary Nielsen estimates. The only NBC entertainment series to fare better this fall is “The Voice,” whose season premiere averaged a 3.5/11 in 18-49 and 12.37 million.

The 3.4 demo rating is 42% above that earned by last year’s live musical presentation of “Peter Pan” (2.4/7 in 18-49, 9.21 million viewers overall). It wasn’t quite up to the level of “Sound of Music,” which averaged a 4.6/13 in the demo and 18.32 million viewers.

Review: ‘The Wiz Live!’

For the night, NBC nearly tripled its season 18-49 average on Thursday with regular programming (3.4 vs. 1.2). And it finished ahead of football for the night in key female demos as well as kids 2-11 (3.1/13).

As expected, “The Wiz Live!” fared especially well in markets with large African-American populations. While the overall household average in Nielsen’s 56 metered markets was 7.9, the top scores came in Richmond (16.1), Norfolk (15.0), Baltimore (14.8), Washington, D.C. (13.2) and Atlanta (13.2). Joining D.C. and Atlanta as top-10 markets soaring above the national average were Philadelphia (10.3), New York (10.2) and Chicago (10.0).

According to Nielsen, roughly 269,400 people sent 1.6 million tweets about “The Wiz Live!” on Thursday night and 6.4 million people saw those tweets a total of 128.9 million times. Last night’s production more than tripled the number of tweets for either “Sound of Music” (449,536) or “Peter Pan” (474,735). And according to social media analyst company Canvs, “The Wiz” drew four times as many reactions per minute than “Peter Pan” (792 vs. 178) and more than three times as many as “Sound of Music” (238).

Canvs, which also identifies content containing emotions, said 46.9% of the tweets during “The Wiz” fell into the “love” category — about on par with “Sound of Music” (47.5%) and well above “Peter Pan” (40.6%). Roughly 12.6% of “Wiz” tweets fell in the “dislike/hate” category, about the same as “Peter Pan” (12.4%) and higher than “Sound of Music” (10.6%).

The big ratings and Twitter numbers for “The Wiz Live!” aren’t a surprise based on strong early social-media interest for the project. Shareablee, a social media analytics company, said “The Wiz” had captured more engagement than “The Sound of Music” and “Peter Pan” combined in the lead-up to the show. From Tuesday through Thursday, “The Wiz” posted 19 pieces of content on Facebook, which captured 60,579 actions (of which 65% was positive). In the same three-day window, “Sound of Music” had posted seven pieces of content and captured a total of 28,523 actions, and “Peter Pan” posted three posts on Facebook that garnered a total of 4,505 actions.

And last night during the 8-11 p.m. ET window, global digital marketing technology company Amobee Brand Intelligence said “The Wiz Live!” attracted 1.374 million tweets during its three-hour telecast window — more than four times the number generated last year during the live telecast of “Peter Pan Live” (360,000). Roughly 30% of the sentiment was positive, 58% neutral and 13% negative — meaning the Twitter sentiment was 133% more positive than negative around the broadcast. Shanice Williams, the 19-year-old actress playing Dorothy, scored especially well, with only 2% of the sentiment surrounding her performance considered negative.

CBS and NFL Network combined to win the night overall, with their coverage of the NFL game between the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions averaging a 12.0 overnight household rating. This should translate into a mid-5 demo rating and more than 17 million total viewers.There wasn’t much else happening on the broadcast front last night, though the CW took advantage of a lack of scripted originals. “The Vampire Diaries” (0.5/2 in 18-49, 1.3 million viewers overall) and “The Originals” (0.5/2 in 18-49, 1.2 million viewers overall) both rose in 18-49 from their prior episodes, with the latter hitting a season high in total viewers.

ABC saw subdued numbers for its holiday specials “Toy Story That Time Forgot” (0.9/3 in 18-49, 4.0 million viewers overall), “Shrek the Halls” (1.0/3 in 18-49, 4.2 million viewers overall) and “CMA Country Christmas” (0.9/3 in 18-49, 5.8 million viewers overall).


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  1. You Mad? says:

    All the racist…. leaving hate comments. You’re so mad keep reaching. :)

  2. Ragnar says:

    Funny, I do not know one person that watched it or heard of it??

  3. Jensen says:

    It was great. The Wizard of Oz is a beloved classic, and no remake can touch it, but “The Wiz: Live” was fun, well-acted, and my family enjoyed it. Not surprised at all at the great ratings.

  4. John says:

    The Wiz was nothing more than racist garbage. Absolutely the worst thing ever!!!

  5. Clayton says:

    The wiz sucked plain and simple. They took a classic and f÷=%ked it up. Everything has to be political correct. I was watching the football game flipped it over to the other channel and I was like wtf is this?? Dear god!

    • squck says:

      John & Clayton:

      Obviously neither one of even bothered to find that The Wiz is an updating of a 40-year-old award-winning Broadway play that was also turned into a major film in 1978. You couldn’t have looked all that up in 4.5 seconds. This version was written by black playwrights back in the mid-’70s. Obviously neither one of you even watched it long enough to even have an opinion. And there’s not one damn thing racist about having an all-black cast because that’s how the play was written—and since practically everything else on TV has mainly mostly white casts. So you don’t have one damn thing to complain about, because you can see people that look like you on TV all the time.

    • Smooth says:

      What a freaking jealous losers. You didn’t watch it but you take time out of your do nothing life to give your absolutely worthless opinion on it. Proof that you have nothing going on in your obviously miserable life. Get a hobby loser.

  6. Hazeus Oferman says:

    Stellar ratings! You have to wonder if THE WIZ would have beaten THE SOUND OF MUSIC’S ratings had it not had to go head to head with an NFL game on CBS. When it aired there was no such competition airing opposite it on the big four networks, which makes THE WIZ’S ratings all the more impressive.

  7. Gary Middleton says:

    So funny to me that the new mark of a successful theatrical production is that the audience talked all the way through it.

  8. Lena Ames says:


    You might not be “green;” but you sure are jealous!!!!!

  9. Dorothy in “Wiz Live!” was unlike Judy Garland she was classless! Who bought Dorothy’s outfit it did not sync with the times as her cast members (lion, tinman and scarecrow) dressed in 1930s – 1950s customs and she looked like a Stripper–hoochie searching for her pot of gold while encountering pimps and more street walkers. Wiz Live sucked . . . I will always LOVE the original “Wizard of OZ!”

    • squck says:

      What the hell are you talking about? There was nothing “hoochie’ or “ghetto” (because that’s what you really wanted to say) about this show, but apparently every time anything is all-black (which you don’t even see that much on the networks) someone like you has to make some stupid ignorant comment–as if that’s all it could possibly be– like this about it. I can’t believe that’s all you had to say about this marvelous family program—it got 11 million viewers anyway, so keep hating,lol. Apparently, it wasn’ any good to you because if wasn’t your typical lily-white show, which just shows how silly and racist you are.

    • Brad says:

      You suck! If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say it! The show was awesome and the cast did a great job!

      • Howie says:

        Ignore Brent, she’s just an attention seeking troll. The Wiz Live was great, well done and a success!

    • Andre says:

      Shows how ignorant you are, the wiz was based on the original wiz with the cast: Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, and so on. Get your facts together and just support the fact that a all black cast stole the night.

      • Jahari says:

        Both The Wiz Live and the 1978 movie version of The Wiz were based on the 1975 Broadway production starring Stephanie Mills as Dorothy.

  10. mopizzle11 says:

    The twitter figures are high, but more than half the tweets I saw last night were people arguing about whether it was racist to have an only black cast.

    They are more than welcome to brag about that if they want, but I’m not sure that’s the best measure for success.

  11. Bill B. says:

    I didn’t even know it was on.

    • Smooth says:

      Well now you should know how insignificant you really are to a show being success. Now go back to bed Rip Van Winkle.

  12. Jen says:

    So Twitter activity doesn’t necessarily translate to ratings. It may have had a ton of Tweets, but The Wiz still didn’t top Carrie Underwood in The Sound of Music.

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