Peter Pan Live! had the makings of a hit after the success of The Sound of Music—Christopher Walken as a singing and dancing Captain Hook! Allison Williams to draw the millennials! But NBC’s second attempt at a live production fell far from what was expected of it. Who’s to blame for the low ratings of Peter Pan Live?
“In spite of the fact that there was a lot of critical negativity, I think Carrie Underwood was an enormous amount of draw for The Sound of Music,” NBC Chairman Bob Greenblatt told reporters at the Television Critics Association’s winter TV previews. “That kind of big star helped bring a bigger audience, and it was the first one, and The Sound of Music was a classic, also. Peter Pan’s not as well known as a show. It’s a known fairy tale, but not as well-known a show. We didn’t have stars that were as big as Carrie. I loved what Chris[topher] Walken and what Allison [Williams] did, but I think stars would bring a bigger number.”
Though Girls star Williams as Peter Pan drew better reviews than Idol alum Underwood as Maria, Peter Pan Live! paled in comparison when it came to the ratings. The three-hour musical drew 9.1 million viewers and a 2.3 rating in the 18-49 demographic, down 51 percent from Sound of Music, which brought in a whopping 18.5 million viewers and a 4.6, making it one of the network’s biggest Thursday nights since ER went off the air.
Still, NBC won’t balk at what Peter Pan Live! did for the network, as they are already considering next year’s production, which is a toss up between The Music Man and The Wiz. “Look, 10 million viewers on a Thursday night for a musical that’s 60 years old is great,” Greenblatt said. “We have no regrets about it.”