Critics weren't so kind, but NBC's three-hour live broadcast of The
Early Nielsen figures show 18.5 million viewers tuned in, the network's biggest Thursday audience (excluding football) since the night of Frasier's series finale in 2004.
RELATED: Sound of Music was a little off
And even among young-adult viewers, it was the network's biggest Thursday since ER's 2009 finale, and tied CBS' top-rated The
Music, adapted from the darker Broadway musical rather than the popular 1965 film that starred
NBC executives – and the rest of the TV industry – were unsure about prospects for the project, which is estimated to have cost well over $10 million. It marked the first time in more than 50 years that a Broadway musical adapted for TV aired live, though earlier shows such as
Underwood may have proved her singing chops as an