Jesus Christ Superstar Live
Sunday, April 1 on NBC.
Aired on primetime from 8-10:15 pm ET/PT and was also available on HULU instantly.
It starred John Legend, Alice Cooper and Sara Bareilles and was set during the final week of Jesus’ life, with the story being told from the perspective of Judas Iscariot, the infamous betrayer. As more followers are drawn to Jesus, Judah becomes worried that Jesus is losing sight of his principles and becoming arrogant. So, suddenly when Jesus attacks the people in charge of money in a temple, Judas turns on his teacher which sets the path to tragedy. Jesus Christ Superstar was originally developed as a concept album which hit No. 1 on Billboard charts, and paved the way for the Broadway show in 1971. It received five Tony nominations, and won a Drama Desk Award.
NBC is trying to change the way they have been previously presenting live musicals, and instead are going to present Jesus Christ Superstar Live as a “Rock Opera”. It was shot in Brooklyn, New York with a multi-level stage that featured thirty-two musicians interacting with John legend, who is playing Jesus.
Jesus Christ superstar live went off without a hitch, and finished with the dramatic crucifixion scene of John Legend’s Jesus Christ, which left audiences at home amazed by the elaborate set. It ended by Legend being lifted into the air and disappearing into a cross made of light
The original stage production of the musical was highly criticized by religious organizations, with Jewish groups calling it anti-Semitic and catholic and protestant organizations felt it was incorrectly represented. However, the NBC adaptation went off without any of these criticisms and instead was highly praised. Being as how it aired on Easter, a day when families are together, it is when people are looking to share common experiences and have bonding moments, making this a family piece of entertainment. “The message is perfect for not only Easter but what is going on in our world right now and in our country…It has a universal message and it has universal entertainment appeal.”
However, people watching this at home complained of the audience being too loud and being unable to hear the vocals during the performance.
1.7 rating and a 6 share in the demo and 9.36 million total viewers This special led NBC to its most-watched Easter Sunday in 12 years, since April 2006. It also topped the most recent live musical on a broadcast network, Fox’s A Christmas Story Live last December.
Jesus Christ Superstar was up against American Idol, The Simpsons, Family Guy, Instinct and Madam Secretary. American Idol hit a new viewership low and demo low, along with CBS’ Instinct which drew less than half of the 1.3 demo rating that it scored last week.
Jesus Christ Superstar tied with CBS’ 60 minutes as the top program of the night in households.
Track were prerelease the day before the show aired to gain excitement. Promotional photos were released on March 21st and interviews were being conducted across all major online newspaper outlets prior to the show. As for during the show, Chrissy Teigan was live-tweeting and #JesusChristSuperstarLive was trending on Twitter as of midnight Sunday night, four hours after it premiered on NBC.
The most prominent advertisers for Jesus Christ Superstar were McDonald’s, Jeep, T-Mobile, Progressive, KFC, Microsoft and Google. NBC did not integrate any sponsor messaging within the show. However, John Legend appeared alongside his wife Chrissy Teigan in a 30 second Google ad while his collaborator, Common, appeared in Microsoft commercials. NBC also used the large size of their holiday audience to promote in-house shows. During two minutes of airtime, NBC ran spots for “The Voice”, “Rise”, “Good Girls”, “Timeless”, “Dateline”, and “2018 Billboard Music Awards”.
Melas, Chloe. “Jesus Christ Superstar: Where to Watch and What to Expect. CNN Entertainment. April 1, 2018. https://www.cnn.com/2018/04/01/entertainment/jesus-christ-superstar-musical/index.html.
Crupi, Anthony. “Jesus Christ Superstar’ Ratings are a Little Shy of Miraculous. AdAge. April 02, 2018. http://adage.com/article/media/jesus-christ-superstar-ratings-not-miraculous-nbc/312957/.