The Nov. 2 airing of Cats roared for PBS stations around the country, luring an estimated 12.8 million viewers to at least some of the 2 1/2-hour broadcast, according to a PBS spokesperson.
The Thirteen/WNET "Great Performances" presentation had the highest viewership in Phoenix (KAET), San Francisco (KQED) and Portland, OR.
The broadcast was seen on 42 PBS stations around the country, with some affiliates choosing to air the show at a later date. Channel 13 in New York City will repeat the broadcast Nov. 7. Check local listings for possible re- broadcast dates.
Viewership for the first-ever TV airing of Andrew Lloyd Webber's international smash hit was 165 percent above the 1996 PBS airing of Riverdance, one of the most popular shows in recent PBS history. Cats viewership exceeded "Les Miserables in Concert," another hit for PBS, by 61 percent.
The musical, which began in London, is based on T.S. Eliot's children's verse, "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats." It became the longest running musical in Broadway history in 1997, and Eliot actually won two Tony Awards (one for book, one shared with ALW for score). The show itself also won Tonys for Best Musical, Director (Trevor Nunn), Costumes (John Napier), Lighting (David Hersey) and Actress (Betty Buckley). For tickets and information on Cats at Broadway's Winter Garden Theatre call (212) 239-6200.