NBC’s The Voice sounded a little pitchy, but still solid, in its third season debut Monday. Even with the addition of the Controversial Cee Lo Cockatoo, the two-hour bow brought in just over 12 million viewers from 8 to 10 p.m., averaging a 4.1 rating with adult viewers under 50. Compared to last winter’s post–Super Bowl Monday night debut (17.7 million, 6.6 demo rating), The Voice was way, way down. Ratings comparisons are also ugly vs. season two’s first month of episodes, when nearly 16 million viewers showed up most weeks. However, compared to the number The Voice settled into for most of last season, Monday’s ratings were actually perky: The overall audience last night was the biggest for the show since March, while the demo score was on a par with last May’s finale (and higher than most April and May episodes). Of course, The Voice faced very little real competition last night, making future weeks a much better indicator of how healthy NBC’s singing franchise remains.
Meanwhile, NBC made a last-second decision to preview the pilot for Ryan Murphy’s The New Normal behind The Voice, but the move didn’t yield much of a pay-off. The comedy drew 6.9 million and averaged a 2.5 rating with adults under 50, losing about half the audience watching The Voice in the 9:30 p.m. half-hour. Still, most of NBC’s marketing of the show has been focused on tonight’s official series premiere (behind newcomer Go On), so it’s possible many folks weren’t even aware of the preview (particularly those who do most of their viewing these days via DVR).