Fox aired a special production of Rent: Live on Sunday night, and it came in with lower ratings than any of the network's live musicals so far.
Live broadcasts of musical productions have become a popular event on network TV in the last couple of years. The shows have generally delivered decent ratings and critical acclaim, though that was not the case with Rent this weekend. The 1990s musical managed a 1.4 in the Nielsen ratings, according to a report by Deadline, with 3.42 million total viewers.
There were plenty of issues with this televised production of Rent. For one thing, Brennin Hunt, who played one of the starring roles as Roger, broke his foot during dress rehearsal a day before the show. That forced Fox to use footage from a previous taped performance, and while there was still an in-house audience, some of the "live" effect was lost.
In the end, Rent delivered lukewarm results for Fox. The show did manage to score the highest ratings in all six half-hour slots it occupied among adults ages 18-49. Even better, it was reportedly number one among adults ages 18-34.
However, this only tied with ABC's programming for the night, and in terms of total viewers, CBS was the winning network.
Fox's last live musical broadcast was in December of 2017. At the time, the production of A Christmas Story Live! earned a 1.5 rating, with 4.48 million viewers. Meanwhile, other networks have seen much more success with the events.
In the spring, NBC aired a star-studded version of Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert. The show starred John Legend, and hit an impressive 1.7 rating in the key demographic, with 9.6 million viewers. Even better — the production brought critical acclaim, with 11 Primetime Emmy Award nominations and one win, and a Critics' Choice Television Award handed out earlier this month.
NBC also holds the highest overall success with televised musicals, going back to its 2013 production of The Sound of Music Live! This was the first live musical broadcast of this recent revival, and it got a huge response. The TV ratings reached a staggering 4.6 in the key demographic, with a total of 18.6 million viewers.
This weekend, Rent was up against some major competition. While the show was a one-time event, it was up against Big Brother: Celebrity Edition on CBS — a show that also depends on timely viewership. Other big winners for the night were 60 Minutes, Shark Tank and America's Funniest Home Videos.