Ryan Seacrest's ABC New Year's telecast draws biggest audience in at least 27 years


Posted Tuesday, January 2, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Ryan Seacrest's ABC New Year's Eve special drew its largest audience in at least 27 years, bringing in an impressive 25.6 million viewers.

That's 5 million more than 2017 for what is officially called "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest."

ABC doesn't have apples-to-apples ratings figures prior 1991 when electronic tracking began. And this only includes the one-hour time period from 11:30 p.m. to 12:32 a.m., not the early prime-time special.

The record-cold weather across a huge swath of the nation may have kept more people inside and watching TV than normal. And there was certainly the curiosity factor about Mariah Carey after her disastrous appearance last year. (This year, she did manage to get through both her songs without totally embarrassing herself. She opted for two classic ballads so she didn't have to move.)

It also didn't hurt that NBC dropped its Carson Daly-led New Year's special because it was originally planning to air an NFL football game until the NFL chose not to compete with New Year's.

It also didn't hurt that all his remaining competitors featured newcomers. Seacrest demolished Steve Harvey's first attempt at hosting a New Year's show on Fox though that show apparently did relatively well. (He replaced Pitbull.) And social media was not kind to Andy Cohen replacing Kathy Griffin on CNN with Anderson Cooper though ratings did go up year over year, averaging 3.3 million from 11 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.. That was the network's best showing ever in on New Year's.

Fox News also had two newbies hosting its New Year's special, Jesse Watters and Lisa "Kennedy" Montgomery, and drew 2.4 million viewers in the same time period but that was down 12 percent year over year.

Atlanta was well represented on the dais in Times Square at midnight. Seacrest graduated Dunwoody High School in 1993. Sugarland - former Atlantan Jennifer Nettles and current Atlantan Kristian Bush - reunited to perform five of its greatest hits on Times Square, looking a bit out of place next to the super glammed-up Carey. Camilla Cabello was also there after singing her hit song "Havana," which references East Atlanta frequently, a song that also featured Atlanta's Young Thug.


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