The Voice Is Music to NBC’s Ears

Cycle 4 premiere draws a whopping 4.8 in the demo

That muffled turbine noise you hear coming from the vicinity of 30 Rock is the collective sigh of relief exhaled by the NBC executives who just took a gander at the network’s fast national ratings.

According to Nielsen’s live-plus-same-day data, Cycle 4 of NBC’s The Voice returned Monday night in fine fettle, averaging 13.6 million viewers and a 4.8 in the adults 18-49 demo. Not only did the show handily win the night, but it also outperformed its Sept. 17 Cycle 3 premiere by 14 percent.

The new-look Voice—Usher and Shakira are filling in for legacy judges Cee Lo Green and Christina Aguilera—started strong and finished even stronger. In its first half hour, the show delivered 11.9 million viewers and a 4.0 18-49 rating; by the 9:30-10 p.m. segment, the opener was reaching 14.5 million viewers and a 5.2 in the all-important demo.

While ABC’s Dancing With the Stars topped The Voice in terms of overall deliveries—the two-hour premiere averaged 14.5 million total viewers—the much older-skewing DWTS drew just a 2.4 in the demo. ABC’s competition series has a median age of 61.1 years, whereas The Voice boasts a relatively dewy 45.

There’s no way to sugarcoat just how badly NBC needed a big result from The Voice, which has been on hiatus since Dec. 18. While it won’t erase the failures of the last three months, a viable Voice turns the lights back on Monday and Tuesday nights.

Less enthralling were the results for the midseason premiere of NBC’s freshman drama, Revolution. While it won its 10 p.m. time slot against a weak field (ABC’s Castle and CBS’ Hawaii Five-O), Revolution delivered just 7.06 million viewers and a 2.6 in the dollar demo. That marks a 10 percent decline versus its fall finale (2.9) and a vertiginous 37 percent slide from the 4.1 it drew in its Sept. 17 series opener.

All told, Revolution squandered nearly half (46 percent) of its Voice lead-in. For all that, its 2.6 rating counts as a qualified success after the long layoff; moreover, that’s still an impressive number for a 10 p.m. broadcast outing.

Having fetched an average unit cost of just $90,000 per 30-second spot, per SQAD NetCost’s upfront analysis, Revolution is now almost certainly commanding a higher rate. The enduring success of The Voice should also make it a pricier buy, as clients can expect to pay well north of $280,000 for each half-minute increment of airtime. (NBCUniversal ad sales president Linda Yaccarino hasn’t been shy about her plan to secure higher rates for the two marquee programs.)

The Voice returns tonight for a one-hour installment, going head-to-head with TV’s most-watched scripted series, CBS’ NCIS, as well as the weirdly riveting ABC newbie Splash and Fox’s Hell’s Kitchen. The series premiere of Splash last week drew 9.02 million viewers and a 2.6 in the demo, making it the third highest-rated show on the night.

Through the first 26 weeks of the 2012-13 TV season, NBC is in third place with an average 2.4 rating among the 18-49 set, down 8 percent from last year. CBS is in first with a 3.0 (down 3 percent), Fox is runner-up with a 2.6 (down 21 percent) and ABC is at the back of the pack with a 2.3, down 8 percent from 2011-12.

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