NBC’s “Smash” ratings decline in Chicago. Again.

We said we’d keep you updated on the ratings story for the heavily-hyped NBC prime time series “Smash.”  And we are.

“Smash” is the show — executive produced by film legend Steven Spielberg — that purports to be a behind-the-scenes saga of life in the Broadway theater world.

Episode three of the series aired Monday, and the Nielsen overnight ratings for that edition of “Smash” in Chicago — a theater town of some magnitude — have declined again, after also dropping for episode two.

Last Monday, “Smash” could do no better than a 4.8 rating, down about 27 percent from a 6.3 rating the previous week. By comparison, ABC’s “Castle” drew more more than double the rating for “Smash” in the 9 p.m. slot in Chicago this past Monday.

At this point “Smash” has lost about 40 percent of the Chicago audience it attracted on Feb. 6, when it premiered here.

With “Smash” ratings where they are now and with the show serving as the late news lead-in, NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5 must now draw viewers from other local channels if it hopes to maintain its ratings numbers for its all-important 10 p.m. late newscast. 

That newscast has been pulling ratings in the high fives and low sixes lately. The WMAQ late news has proved before it can improve on its lead-in, but it’s always tough and never a sure thing.

Meanwhile, the doom sayers are starting to wonder how long NBC will let “Smash” play out if the ratings continue to fall.  That drop-off is of particular concern because “Smash” follows directly after “The Voice,” which is a bone fide hit for NBC. 

The network undoubtedly would like to get the maximum benefit from “The Voice” by programming another show after it that is good enough to hold on to most of the reality show’s numbers, or even build on them to lead in to the 10 p.m. news.

With three episodes of “Smash” now aired, NBC must be getting that sinking feeling that “Smash” may not be the show to achieve that goal for the network.  Oh well. 

Contact Lewis Lazare at LewisL3@aol.com