Ratings heavenly for NBC’s live ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’

The ambitious live action production, outdid ABC's ratings draw "American Idol" and longtime CBS viewership magnet "60 Minutes"

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While Easter Sunday used to be known for the yearly presentation of the legendary film The Ten Commandments, NBC’s live version of the Broadway play Jesus Christ Superstar did big time numbers for the Peacock.

The rock opera, first developed by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice in 1970, was headlined by John Legend playing Jesus Christ and was a big hit on social media. The Hollywood Reporter says that the live action play averaged nearly 10 million viewers and a 1.7 rating among adults 18-49.

READ MORE: John Legend to portray title role in NBC’s “Jesus Christ Superstar”

Those numbers, after early returns gave it a 6.0 Nielsen rating, which beat all other original telecasts for the night — including 60 Minutes and American Idol on its new home, ABC. The play aired live at the Marcy Avenue Armory in Brooklyn.

It was the first time NBC had attempted to air a live show on a major holiday. All of NBC’s previous efforts ran on a weeknight. Compared with NBC’s last live production, 2016’s Hairspray, Jesus Christ Superstar held steady. It did not fare as well as the first two NBC live stage plays: The Sound of Music (2013) and The Wiz (2015). The Sound of Music’s 18.6 million viewers is by far the network’s best performance.

Looking ahead, NBC’s next live musical, Bye Bye Birdie won’t air until 2019, at the earliest due to conflicts with the schedule of star Jennifer Lopez, who is currently working on two other NBC series.

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