One classic comedy came back to a much stronger audience than the other
“There are no bad ideas, Lemon. Only good ideas that go horribly wrong.” – Jack Donaghy
Thursday night’s “30 Rock” reunion special, which was really NBC’s upfront presentation and longform advertisement for parent company NBCUniversal’s new streaming platform Peacock, settled for a soft 0.4 rating among adults 18-49 and 2.5 million viewers. Those are not good numbers, but there are a few caveats that make them a little more understandable — and possibly even digestible for NBC executives.
At first glance, the numbers look bad. “30 Rock: A One-Time Special” was outperformed outright in the 8 o’clock hour by ABC’s putt-putt golf competition “Holey Moley.” In the key demo in the same time slot, the Tina Fey/Robert Carlock nicety for NBC tied a rerun of CBS’ “Young Sheldon” and was topped by Univision’s “La Rosa De Guadalupe.” In terms of total viewers, in addition to “Holey Moley,” both “Young Sheldon” and a repeat of “The Unicorn” at 8:30 came in higher than the “30 Rock” reunion in Nielsen’s earliest returns.
For a self-comparison, the “30 Rock” special declined from a 0.4 demo rating and 2.8 million viewers in its first half hour to a 0.3 rating and 2.1 million viewers in its second.
But how did this reunion fare when juxtaposed with the last big one for a classic NBC comedy?
On Thursday, April 30, NBC’s half-hour “Parks and Recreation” reunion special scored primetime’s highest TV ratings — for any time slot. The 1.4 rating among adults 18-49 was not enough to lift the network above its competition, however, and NBC landed in third place that night.
In terms of total viewers, NBC finished fourth among the Big 4 broadcasters (CBS, NBC, Fox and ABC) on the night of the Amy Poehler comedy’s big remotely taped reunion. While the “Parks” special at 8:30 p.m. posted a respectable 3.7 million viewers, a pair of “Council of Dads” episodes — one a rerun, one an original — dragged NBC’s 8-11 p.m. average down.
For the sake of getting as close to an apples-to-apples comparison as possible, all numbers in this story come from Nielsen’s fast-affiliate Live+Same Day ratings metric. They should be considered very preliminary. Like “Parks and Recreation” did, the “30 Rock” reunion will dramatically rise with DVR catch-up viewing.
After one week of delayed viewing on TV only, the “Parks” reunion rose to a 1.6 rating and 4.3 million total viewers, per Nielsen. Including all digital viewing as well as linear delayed-viewing, the “Parks and Rec” special has amassed a 3.7 rating and 7.6 million total viewers to date, according to NBC.
Due to its promotional nature for Peacock, the “30 Rock” reunion special was not carried by all NBC affiliates across every cable provider. That could impact its ratings. It is also worth pointing out that late-April television viewing levels are much better than those in mid-July.
An NBC insider told TheWrap that it is important to remember that the two shows are “completely different programs” and the network has different expectations for them. The “30 Rock” special is really an upfront presentation “being broadened out to allow viewers to join in with an event that was previously limited to the ad community,” as the insider put it. And as a special that won’t carry traditional commercials, the program will not be included in NBC’s nightly, weekly or season-long ratings averages.
In addition to a Thursday debut on NBC’s broadcast channel, the show will have additional opportunities to collect eyeballs: The “30 Rock” special will be rebroadcast Friday at 9 p.m. ET on USA Network, Bravo, E!, Oxygen, Syfy, and CNBC. And naturally, it will be available to stream starting Friday on Peacock and the NBC app, and is also available on partner streaming services/video on-demand.