Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Explaining NBC'S Fall

I didn't realize all the ramifications of NBC's botched attempt to shore up its prime time lineup until I read the enthralling article "Will Somebody Please Save NBC?"
It's in the Nov. 8 issue of New York magazine available online at nymag.com and is by Mark Harris.
It's Harris's thesis that the failure of Jay Leno at 10 p.m. caused an irreversible ripple effect over the whole NBC schedule.
For one thing NBC affiliates run their late local news at 11 and most stations report declining ratings with the weak Leno lead in.
Then there's the damage the artistic community of L.A. currently feels. When a producer as important as John Wells (ER) sees his latest and lauded series Southland get the boot even before a single second season episode has run, well, he gets publicly ticked off about it.
And there's the question of NBC's impending sale. What other entity would want a huge, old fashioned network that is plainly breaks down every weeknight at 10 p.m. Ever since its inception NBC has been number One or Two in the ratings while these days it only has one series in the Top 10.
And although Harris doesn't directly say this one has to wonder about the hierarchy who let Medium slip away to CBS only to see it record big gains --and on a Friday of all places.
But it all goes back to Leno. I think he's worse than he ever was at 11:30. Everything about the nightly talkfest seems recycled. And it can't help that CBS and ABC are forbiding their stars to appear on the show.
Just this week Leno mused out loud he wouldn't mind going back to 11:30. Excuse me but didn't NBC want to become hip with a younger audience by promoting Conan O'Brien.
I think Conan seems mighty uncomfortable since his move from New York to Burbank. For one thing he has to welcome Leno's rejects, guests deemed too insignificant to flog their products in prime time at 10.
It's all a big mess. And, yes, it does impact on Canadian TV because Canadian private networks use American fodder to fill up on during the prime time hours. With Leno at NBC that's five hours a week less of edgy prime time dramatic series to pick from.
There seems to be a growing consensus that NBC will let Leno last through this season but switch back to dramas in the fall of 2010 and plop Leno back at 11:30. Fine but what does that do to Conan I ask you.

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