Fox's live "Rent" turned out to be not-quite-live — and perhaps as a result, its ratings ranked the lowest among live musical television productions.
After lead actor Brennin Hunt, who plays Roger, broke his foot near the end of Saturday's dress rehearsal, Fox decided to use pre-filmed footage from that rehearsal on Sunday night's broadcast. Only a short segment at the end was actually live, with Hunt performing from a wheelchair.
In overnight ratings, “Rent” averaged 2.4 millions viewers and a 1.4 rating in adults 18-49. That sets a new record low, falling behind Fox's "A Christmas Story Live,” which drew 4.5 million viewers and a 1.5 rating. And it's very far below the most highly rated live musical, NBC’s 2013 version of “The Sound of Music," which drew 18.6 million viewers and a 4.6 rating.
Fox's choice to use pre-taped footage left the final broadcast feeling disjointed. Many of the actors were "saving" their voices for the Sunday show, which made their performances seem lackluster. The sound mixing was also off.
The production did not have understudies, so Hunt could not be replaced. However, in the theater where the show was taped, a live audience did get to see the cast perform, including Hunt in a wheelchair. At the end of the broadcast, Fox switched from the pre-taped footage to live footage, with the cast joined by the original Broadway cast of "Rent" on stage to sing "Seasons of Love."
On Twitter, fans were shaking their heads at Fox's decision to air the pre-taped footage, as well as the lack of understudies: