You can now count live events and glossy musicals as a few of TV executives’ favorite things.
Thursday’s three-hour spectacular “Sound of Music Live!” with country star Carrie Underwood as Maria sang for 18.6 million total viewers, according to Nielsen. That was a number that exceeded all expectations and gave NBC its most-watched night of entertainment programming in nearly seven years.
But Underwood and the singing Von Trapp kids also carried heavy symbolic freight for the TV industry. Networks are under attack from all sorts of competing diversions, including not just Netflix and Amazon but also apps such as Instagram that leach away millions of young viewers.
Sports and awards shows have better withstood the eroding effects of audience fragmentation than regular scripted programming because viewers are forced to tune in to watch in real time. That dynamic is especially attractive to advertisers who often lose traction on commercials since viewers with DVRs often fast forward through them.
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