NEW YORK (AP) — "Peter Pan Live" didn't exactly fly for NBC.
The three-hour live musical starring Allison Williams reached 9.1 million viewers Thursday night, or just under half the audience that watched "The Sound of Music" last December, the Nielsen company said on Friday. The unexpected crowd of 18.6 million people last year had NBC swiftly looking for another live production.
NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt said he didn't expect to match last year's ratings because "The Sound of Music" was the first event of its type on TV in many years.
"We're very pleased with the 'Peter Pan' ratings and it was a great night for NBC," he said. "We won every hour, which hasn't happened on Thursday with entertainment programming since a year ago. I'm proud to be part of a company that takes chances and creates big events, and that's exactly what we're going to continue to do."
He said NBC is already working on putting another musical together. The network announced last spring that "The Music Man" is next in the pipeline.
Viewers drifted away from "Peter Pan Live" as the evening went on. During the first half hour, Nielsen said 11.4 million viewers were tuned in. But it dropped every half hour so that 7 million people were watching the final scenes. One of its television competitors was a Dallas-Chicago NFL game.
The musical made a social media splash, however. Twitter said there were 457,000 tweets sent out about the show while it was on, which were seen 106.9 million times. That compares to 68.7 million impressions for "The Sound of Music" and 37.4 million for the recent midseason finale of "The Walking Dead."
In a perverse sense, the production may have been hurt by competence.
"Allison Williams ruined hate-watching," critic Alessandra Stanley wrote in The New York Times. She referenced the phenomenon of people taking pleasure in sub-par performances, or watching people fail. Some critics suggested this boosted the attention to Carrie Underwood in "Sound of Music" last year.
The Daily Beast's Kevin Fallon wrote that "Peter Pan Live" wasn't "the amateur train wreck" that "The Sound of Music" was. "It was worse," he said. "It was boring."
Williams, an actress on HBO's "Girls," drew some social media support from singer Katy Perry, who tweeted: "I believe in you Allison Williams!!!"
Christopher Walken's performance as Dr. Hook drew plenty of commentary.
The Associated Press' Mark Kennedy wrote that Walken's deliberate take "seemed like a failed 'Saturday Night Live' sketch about Johnny Depp." Newsday's Verne Gay said Walken "came to do camp and he succeeded."