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December 7, 2010

‘The Sing Off’ Stands Out for NBC

New York Times

In one of the few true ratings surprises of the fall television season, a second edition of the NBC a cappella singing competition, “The Sing Off,” burst out as a conspicuous success Monday night, posting some of the best numbers of the year for any show on that network.

The two-hour edition of “The Sing Off,” which introduced 10 singing groups in a competition for one of the punier prizes in network reality competitions – $100,000 – averaged a little over 8.5 million viewers and performed strongly among the younger adult viewers that NBC always prefers.

In the 18- to 49-year-old audience segment, “The Sing Off” scored a 2.8 rating for its two-hour length, the second-best number on the night, topped only by CBS’s strong lineup of comedies.

The show was helped by some less-than-stellar competition on the other networks, as ABC’s effort to sell “Skating With the Stars,” as a spin-off of its big hit “Dancing With the Stars,” has flopped, with only 4.8 million viewers and just a 1 rating among that 18 to 49 group; and Fox failed to stir much interest with a new awards show, the American Country Awards, which only averaged about six million viewers and a 1.5 rating in that younger adult group.

But the competition on cable was – on paper anyway – hugely formidable because ESPN had its most anticipated “Monday Night Football” game in years, with the Patriots playing the Jets for first place. The game was a bust, however, with New England routing New York.

NBC itself had modest expectations for “The Sing Off,” hoping it might manage to reach a 2 rating in that 18 to 49 audience segment. The show averaged about a 2.3 last year in its first iteration, but did not attract much attention either in the media or in word of mouth.

This year, however, many reviewers were enthusiastic. And the continuing success of the music-based “Glee” on Fox may have increased interest in musical shows.

The downside for NBC is that the show only has five editions, (one more on Wednesday, two next week and then one the following Monday.) Under the current plan, it will wrap up on the Monday before Christmas, so it is unlikely the show could be expanded, as Fox often does with its singing competition, “American Idol.”

But given its strong start, “The Sing Off” is likely to accomplish the network’s chief goal, which was to keep Monday night’s ratings from plummeting during the holiday weeks.

Wow! 8.5 million viewers! A cappella is happenin' baby!

Posted by acapnews at December 7, 2010 10:16 PM

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