Sound of Music Live (au naturel)

by Bradley Jobling on December 8, 2013

I am not professing to do it in the state that au naturel normally implies. It’s just that the recent NBC broadcast of The Sound of Music Live seems to be the “natural state” of television in the age of digital. A kind of retro TV for today.

Television in the age of DVRs and fiber optic cable has certainly changed. Compare this to an early Betty White television gig where she and her cohost Al Jarvis would broadcast live for 5 hours a day ad-libbing without a script. Commercials were also performed by Betty and her co-host. Unlike boxed or pre-recorded programming live television experiences are unpredictable and can have some flat moments. Yet those live parts that do go off a bit can be both anxiety-inducing and thrilling when the actors’ recoveries are quick and smart. (Did you see any mistakes or unintended moments during Thursday’s performance?)

With the combination of live broadcasting and Twitter, home viewers turn into a studio audience. Through the Tweets get the added insight and thoughts of fellow audience members. Become Shakespearean and throw a virtual tomato on the stage for a poor performance.

Of course, there will always be a place for recorded programming. Elaborate scenery and special effects can only be done when filmed. But the excitement of Broadway and stage performances have never gone away nor will live television experiences.

Some interesting facts about The Sound of Music:

  • The NBC live show was broadcast from Grumman Studios in Bethpage (Long Island), New York.
  • Advertiser Subway said that brand awareness from the spots aired during The Sound of Music Live surveyed higher than those shown during other times.
  • Almost 1/2 million Tweets were sent about the program during the broadcast. These were viewed over 60 million times.
  • Living von Trapp family members were not thrilled with the choice of Carrie Underwood for the part of Maria, nor were they happy with the portrayal their father in the 1965 movie. They said he loved being around the children and would happily sit with them in his office ravaged by their play.
  • There is a traveling Sound of Music Sing Along show a la Rocky Picture Horror Show where audience members dress up and sing along with the movie and a narrator.

What should NBC do for next year’s live holiday broadcast?

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