A Hard Day’s Night: Bieber Special Flops

NBC’s two-part tour doc draws just 3 million viewers

In a moment of hubris documented in his NBC special, Justin Bieber compared himself to the Beatles. And while the Canadian pop phenom certainly draws his share of screaming teenage girls, as a TV star he’s no Ringo.

According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, Part 1 of NBC’s two-hour concert special Justin Bieber: All Around the World on Wednesday delivered just 3.02 million viewers and a 0.9 rating in the 18-49 demo, making it the least-watched program on the Big Four.

So poorly was Bieber received that he was even outdrawn by CBS’s little-watched Dogs in the City (4.95 million viewers/1.1 rating).

Part 2 of Bieber’s tour documentary fared just as badly, drawing 3.1 million viewers and a 0.8 rating on Thursday night.

As for the Fab Four, their landmark Feb. 9, 1964, appearance on CBS’s The Ed Sullivan Show was watched by 73 million viewers. Take that, Beebs.

Bieber made the remark about his fame in Part 1 of the NBC special. “I’m experiencing what the Beatles went through, what Michael Jackson went through,” he said. “It’s crazy.”

And while there’s no denying that Bieber Fever puts one in mind of the early stages of Beatlemania, the “Boyfriend” singer would be better served if he’d knock it off with the comparisons to John, Paul, George and Ringo.

Even 70-year-old Sir Paul’s solo TV appearances crush JBiebz like a bug. The last time Paul McCartney appeared on NBC’s Saturday Night Live (Dec. 12, 2010), 7.6 million people tuned in.

Setting aside Bieber’s goofy propensity to drop the B-word—the singer made a similar boast to MTV in 2010—the ratings tell a bigger story about network TV. The ‘tween audience that makes up the bulk of Bieber’s rabid fan base simply does not watch very much linear television. According to Nielsen, kids 12-17 contribute to just 5 percent of all GRPs. The most TV-hungry demo: adults 50-64, who account for 25 percent of all viewing.

And broadcast TV isn’t getting any younger. The median age of the Big Four broadcast nets is now 50.8 years—toss in the relatively cherubic CW and the figure dips only slightly (48 years). In other words, kids aren’t watching NBC, or any other network for that matter. In all likelihood, even the most fervent Beliebers probably weren’t even aware of the special in the first place.

Next time a broadcaster plans on airing a concert special, try lining up Tom Jones. The Welsh crooner is a better fit for network television and at 72 years old, he’s practically a contemporary of the audience.