NBC and Macy’s July 4 Fireworks Special Is One of the Few Annual Live Events to Add Viewers

7.5 million tuned in this year—the show’s largest audience since 2012

Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular was NBC's most-watched since 2012, which drew 8.1 million viewers. Craig Blankenhorn/NBC
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If the Oscars, Grammys and Golden Globes want to prevent more ratings drops next year, perhaps they should add some fireworks.

Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular, NBC’s annual two-hour Independence Day telecast, averaged 7.5 million viewers last night, a 17 percent increase from last year’s audience of 6.4 million. That makes it the most-watched July 4 Macy’s special since 2012’s telecast, which drew 8.1 million viewers.

While the show’s 18-49 demo rating, 1.2, was down slightly from 2017’s 1.3, the telecast still represents one of the few annual live events not to lose viewers year over year.

This year has seen ratings declines for many of TV’s biggest events, including the Oscars, Grammys and Golden Globes. Last year’s Emmys telecast avoided an all-time low in total viewers, but did drop in the 18-49 demo. Even NBC’s other major holiday special with Macy’s, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, was off from the previous year.

The July Fourth show draws a fraction of the audience for those bigger events (it did peak at 1.7 in the demo during the final half-hour), but it does indicate that ratings erosion is not a given for these live annual telecasts.

The Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular included performances by The Voice coaches Kelly Clarkson and Blake Shelton, as well as Ricky Martin, Keith Urban, American Authors and Brandon Victor Dixon.

An hour-long recap special of the event, which aired immediately after the live telecast at 10, was watched by another 4.9 million viewers, and received a 0.9 demo rating.

@jasonlynch jason.lynch@adweek.com Jason Lynch is TV Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.