By Alyssa Fix
“The Sound of Music Live!” special on NBC may be changing what certain networks broadcast. Ratings show that 18.5 million viewers tuned into watch the special, making it the most popular program on Thursday night.
Part of this success can be credited to the advertising done before the special highlighting the star of the television musical, Carrie Underwood, who is a popular American country music singer. Commercials and print advertisements featured the star in many of them. Undoubtedly, celebrities like Carrie Underwood and Stephen Moyer, who stars in True Blood, drew in many viewers. On top of celebrity appeal, The Sound of Music was already a very popular musical with audiences. However, these factors didn’t attract the millions of viewers Thursday night. The ‘live’ aspect of the program is the explanation for the success of the special.
Many people prefer to watch television shows on streaming websites such as Netflix and Hulu. Likewise, many people tend to record television shows on DVR or similar technology. Because of this, networks have had to be more creative than traditional programming. They are starting to air live broadcasts to increase the number of people who watch a program while it airs.
With people starting to watch TV shows on platforms other than just the television, live programs, like music concerts and awards shows, are becoming more popular. This comes as no surprise; professional sports, like football and baseball, which are aired live on television, have continued success every year in ratings. What’s surprising is the transition of regular, taped television being switched for viewers to watch live. Live television comes with risks and the possibility of airing mistakes to the world. At the same time, viewers will be the first to see what happens with no spoilers. Both those reasons can partly explain the reason why live television is becoming better received than traditional television.
As reality television has gained popularity over the past few decades, networks are now taking it a step farther by providing unedited entertainment to viewers. That’s about as close to real life as television can get. If anything, “The Sound of Music Live!” can be seen as a part of a progressive movement towards a more authentic viewer experience on television. Though live television has a ways to go when it comes to replacing regular television, it is for now a successful technique for networks to increase their ratings.