The Voice Gives NBC More To Shout About

The Voice got gigantic post-Super Bowl ratings for its second season premiere Sunday night. This in itself is not news, as anything that runs after the big game always does well. But what has to be buoying NBC today is just how large that audience was.

According to Nielsen, The Voice held on to 37 million viewers Sunday, and scored a 16.3 rating in the 18-49 demographic. For comparison’s sake, Fox’s post-game showing of Glee last February got “only” an 11.1 rating in the demo. The Voice was the highest-rated telecast for something that wasn’t sports since ABC aired Grey’s Anatomy after the Super Bowl in 2006.

There were a few factors that helped NBC last night. The game had a very high viewership even by the standards of Super Bowls, it went down to the wire, and the telecast ended at a decent time (about 10:20 p.m. in the east). But the numbers for The Voice still come as a big surprise, given the issues that American Idol has had so far this season, and all the speculation (some of it seen in this very place) that America is getting tired of music competition shows.

A key test will come Monday, when The Voice settled in to its usual timeslot on Mondays at 8. The competition will be strong: new episodes of the CBS comedies, plus Alcatraz on Fox at 9 p.m. If the show can retain enough of Sunday’s audience to win the night, and transfer a high percentage of its fans over to the premiere of Smash at 10 p.m., NBC will have some of its best news in years.