It may be time for NBC to change the title of its Broadway drama, “Smash.” After its second-season premiere Tuesday night, the show might more appropriately be called, “Smithereens.”
That would best describe what the ratings for Tuesday’s episode are likely to have done to the show’s future: blown it to bits. “Smash,” which NBC extensively retooled after disappointing viewers who initially responded well to its pilot episode,
fell a staggering 71 percent in the rating for the audience NBC most seeks to reach, viewers between the ages of 18 and 49. It also fell more than 60 percent in total viewers from its first-season premiere, to 4.46 million from 11.4 million.
Possibly even worse, the show dropped 39 percent from last season’s finale, after “Smash” had already been subjected to a critical battering for its season-long deterioration.
The bad news continued in the pattern of viewers leaving the show throughout its two-hour length. It started out with 5.2 million viewers at 9 p.m.; that fell to 4.47 million at 9:30; 4.22 million at 10; and to 3.96 million at 10:30.
NBC most cares about reaching viewers between the ages of 18 and 49, because that is the group it sells to advertisers, and “Smash” fell especially hard among that audience. It started weakly with just a 1.3 rating among that group for its first half-hour; by its last half-hour it was down to a 1.0. The average of a 1.1 was by far the worst performance Tuesday night for any show on the major networks.
Last season, “Smash” benefited from being placed behind NBC’s music-based hit, “The Voice.” This season it does not have that protection, which was one reason it was exposed so badly. Another was ABC’s decision to try to beat “Smash” early by adding a special edition of “The Bachelor” head-to-head against it.
That strategy worked: “The Bachelor” averaged almost eight million viewers and a 2.6 rating in the 18-to-49 category