Smash Season 2In what The Hollywood Reporter is calling a ‘catastrophic premiere,’ NBC’s second season of Smash, which boasts a new showrunner and the star power of Jennifer Hudson, suffered a 71 percent drop in ratings over last year.

On top of that, the big budget show was actually clobbered by the seemingly unstoppable Betty White. Betty White’s Second Annual 90th Birthday Special outperformed Smash by more than 25 percent.

Experts believe that even though Smash benefitted last year from onair promotion during the Super Bowl (which was on NBC last year) and a powerful lead-in rating from The Voice, there is little forgiveness in the TV ratings world, and the show could be quick to hit the chopping block if the ratings don’t improve by almost unattainable numbers.

Smash debuted with a two hour premiere, and rather than build an audience over time, the last half hour dipped down to audience levels more reminiscent of a cable television show, not a major network big-budget project.

If NBC hopes for an uptick, they’ll have to wait. The show will be preempted on February 12th by the State of the Union address. But the real hint of light at the end of the tunnel comes as far off as March 25, when The Voice comes back with the promise of big numbers. Will that be too late?