There’s no denying that NBC has had a bad year. Man of the network’s new shows for the 2010-2011 TV season have failed (Chase, Outlaw, Undercovers, Perfect Couples, The Paul Reiser Show, The Cape) while other new shows suffer in the ratings (The Event, Law and Order: Los Angeles).

But now NBC has something to sing about: the series premiere of its new reality competition series, The Voice, earned the network’s highest ratings of the year for a TV series (not including Sunday night football).

Highlights from the Voice Premiere>>

The first hour, where the show competed against the end of Glee‘s 90-minute episode as well as a Dancing with the Stars performance show, earned 11.4 million viewers, while the second hour increased to 12.2 million.

That’s enough to beat the network’s previous high mark for this TV season, the premiere of Harry’s Law, which had 11.1 million viewers.

The big numbers for The Voice come after months of very heavy promotion and also coincide with fairly positive reviews. It was the kind of boost NBC needed after so many colossal failures this season.

Will The Voice continue to succeed? Next week’s episode will be the real test, but with Glee returning to one-hour episodes, it looks good.

The real pressure will come starting May 10, when the show moves to hour-long episodes at 8pm. The Voice will avoid going up against Dancing with the Stars, but it will be in direct competition with two of TV’s biggest shows: Glee and NCIS. However, NBC has to be feeling optimistic, something no one has said for a very long time.

Sadly, it could mean that NBC will continue to invest heavily in reality competitions, to the detriment of scripted programming. The Voice, The Biggest Loser and The Celebrity Apprentice are currently among NBC’s most-watched shows and, during the summer, NBC frequently tops the ratings with America’s Got Talent.

I may not like the fact that, more than any other network, NBC has fully embraced the concept of two-hour reality shows, but it’s the only thing that actually works for them.

(Image courtesy of NBC)

John Kubicek

Senior Writer, BuddyTV

John watches nearly every show on TV, but he specializes in sci-fi/fantasy like The Vampire DiariesSupernatural and True Blood. However, he can also be found writing about everything from Survivor and Glee to One Tree Hill and Smallville.