Voices Carry: NBC Adds Another Hour of Reality Hit

‘The Voice’ sets up shop on Tuesday night

In a bid to pull the throttle back on its prime-time ratings, NBC has carved out another hour for its hit competition series, The Voice.

Like American Idol before it, The Voice will now air in two weekly installments, beginning April 3. While the Monday night flagship will stay the course in the 8 p.m.-10 p.m. time slot, a one-hour results show will establish residency Tuesday nights at 9 p.m.

The additional hour of The Voice will shave 60 minutes off The Biggest Loser’s running time. NBC can afford to put Loser on a diet; now in its 12th season, the most recent episode drew just 6.03 million viewers and a 2.0 rating among adults 18-9.  

The two-night format will run for six weeks, culminating in a two-hour season finale on Tuesday, May 8.

A glance at the Nielsen ratings suggests that a second helping of The Voice should find an audience. Far and away NBC’s most successful series (Sunday Night Football notwithstanding), The Voice is averaging 19.4 million viewers and a 7.5 rating in the all-important 18-49 demo.

Season 2 got underway on Feb. 5, leading out of the Super Bowl. Per Nielsen, The Voice opener averaged 37.6 million viewers and a 16.3 in the demo. When the Super Sunday edition is factored out, The Voice is delivering 16.3 million live-plus-same-day viewers and a whopping 6.1 in the dollar demo.

Live episodes of The Voice will begin airing Monday, April 2, continuing through the season finale. The added drama of live TV should not only draw a cohort of new fans, but boost ratings for lead-out Smash as well.

After enduring a rough patch, Smash appears to be on the rebound. The musical on Monday (March 5) put up its biggest ratings in three weeks, averaging 7.76 million viewers and a 2.7 in the demo, a 17 percent improvement over the previous week’s deliveries.

If Smash continues on that course, it will almost certainly be renewed by NBC entertainment president Bob Greenblatt.

While much hay has been made about The Voice besting American Idol, the Fox show is still putting up huge numbers. Through 17 episodes, Idol is averaging 18 million viewers and a 5.8 in the 18-to-49 demo.

Comparisons between the two programs are essentially without merit as they do not meet in head-to-head competition. (Idol airs on Wednesdays and Thursdays.) It’s also worth noting that Idol is in its 11th season.

Idol certainly wins the CPM battle. Media buyers estimate that a 30-second spot in the Wednesday competition show costs north of $500,000, while a :30 in the results show runs around $470,000 a pop.

A spot in The Voice fetches as much as $215,000.

After The Voice signs off for the summer, NBC’s reality workhorse America’s Got Talent returns on May 14 and 15. Howard Stern joins Sharon Osbourne and Howie Mandel on the judge’s panel; the radio icon replaces CNN host Piers Morgan.

The Season 6 premiere of America’s Got Talent was the highest-rated in the show’s history, drawing 15.3 million viewers and a 4.3 rating on May 31, 2011.

Season to date, NBC ranks third in the 18-49 demo, averaging a 2.7 rating, up 7 percent versus last season. The Peacock leads ABC by two-tenths of a ratings point. Fox is tops in the demo, leading CBS by a 3.3-to-3.1 margin.  

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