Two talk show bits turned into half-hour unscripted programs have managed to draw decent numbers of viewers. Spike’s Lip Sync Battle, based on a segment from Jimmy Fallon’s The Tonight Show, started strong, as did the expanded version of a bit from The Ellen DeGeneres Show, ABC’s Repeat After Me, though it has declined in recent weeks.
Spike announced today that, in live+3 ratings (three days of DVR playback added to the original broadcast), last Thursdays’ premiere of Lip Sync Battle “drew a record 3.2 million viewers” which makes it “the most-watched series premiere in network history and second most-watched original series telecast in channel history.”
After just same-day viewing, the show had 2.2 million viewers and Spike announced then that it was “the most-watched non-scripted series debut in network history.”
Meanwhile, there’s ABC’s Repeat After Me, which uses hidden cameras to record people’s reactions to celebrities who are repeating lines fed to them from a studio by Wendi McLendon-Covey. It had 3.5 million viewers and a .9 in live+3 last Tuesday. That’s down sharply from its Feb. 17 premiere, though, which had 4.7 million viewers and a 1.5 in live+3.
Can Lip Sync Battle sustain or grow those ratings? I enjoyed the first episodes and was pleasantly surprised how a 10-minute bit became a half-hour show without seeming too padded. There are four performances followed by a quick audience vote, with a few fun backstage and post-performance moments. But I’m not sure I’d watch every week, because it’s kind of one-note. Ultimately, the show only works if it has ego-free celebrities–like The Rock–who are willing to surprise us with their commitment to the ridiculousness.
As long as there’s surprise, though, there will be viewers. Just watch this clip of Anne Hathaway performing “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus, which already has 7.7 million views on YouTube.