'The Voice' Returns Strong for NBC but 'Revolution' Hits a Hiccup

Network Had Faltered Without Fall Hits

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NBC's top brass can breathe a sigh of relief this morning after the highly-anticipated return of "The Voice" and "Revolution" gave the network the ratings boost it desperately needed.

The judges on the fourth-season debut of 'The Voice'
The judges on the fourth-season debut of 'The Voice' Credit: NBC

The fourth cycle of "The Voice" premiered to 13.4 million viewers, a 9% increase over its third-season premiere in September, which drew 12.3 million viewers. Last week's performance episode of "American Idol" on Fox, by comparison, brought in 12.9 million viewers.

While "Revolution" returned down after a fourth-month hiatus, it was still watched by 7.2 million viewers, avoiding a drastic fall-off that was a real possibility for a freshman drama after such a long break. The sci-fi drama premiered in the fall to 11.7 million viewers and got 8.7 million viewers for its mid-season finale. Despite the hiccup, however, "Revolution" was still the No. 1 drama of the night, beating Fox's new series, "The Following."

"The Voice," "Sunday Night Football" and "Revolution" helped the the Peacock Network improve its ratings among 18-to-49-year-olds more than 16% last fall even as viewership in the demographic declined for its rivals.

But with football over and "The Voice" and "Revolution" dark, NBC has faltered. The network finished the February sweeps period in fifth place behind Univision, making it the only one of the Big Four broadcasters to ever finish in that slot.

NBC has been reshuffling its schedule, using "The Voice" as a critical lead-in for its programming slate. It is moving the musical drama "Smash," which has been a disappointment in its second season, to Saturday. Taking its place on Tuesdays after "The Voice" will be the new reality-dating series "Ready for Love."

NBC's freshman sitcoms "Go On" and "The New Normal" have taken ratings hits without "The Voice" as a lead-in, but NBC will air the season finale of "The New Normal" on April 2 after "The Voice." The network also plans to show encore episodes of "The Voice" on two Sundays, March 31 and April 7, as a lead-in to new episodes of "Celebrity Apprentice."

The outsize importance of "The Voice" to NBC led the network to extend "The Voice" to two cycles a season, but the move has also raised concerns that it could create a fatigue for the singing competition series.

NBC revamped the judges panel for this go-round, replacing Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green with Shakira and Usher. Blake Shelton and Adam Levine remain on board.

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