Sunday, December 14, 2008

Has NBC Cut Off Their Nose to Spite Their Face?

Earlier this month I wrote about Tuesday being so crammed with programming that it was hard for me to fit it all in. NBC may have thrown another wrench into viewing patterns when, a few days later, NBC made the announcement that next fall, they would be filling the 10:00 PM time slot with a show hosted by Jay Leno. It didn’t take long for CBS’ head honcho Les Moonves to scoff at NBC’s actions, basically saying that he will be able to kick NBC’s butt at that time slot, thank you very much.

NBC may see this as an innovative move to change the look of television and save a bundle in the process. After all, they seem proud that it will cost them less money to produce Leno’s shows, even doing it 5 days a week, over a scripted drama. But NBC forgets a big fact here – if the show isn’t a big draw, it will also product a lot less in advertising revenue. They also forget that they just essentially opened the door wide for CBS and ABC to take commanding leads in that time slot, maybe even with mediocre dramas.

For me, since I am a very early riser, it is rare for me to be up past 10:00 PM as it is. I have always recorded my favorite shows at 10:00. But for a show like Leno’s, which NBC seems proud it will not be a good candidate to DVR because of the timely nature of the content, it also means that I won’t be setting my DVR to record any shows on NBC at 10:00 anymore. Despite the fact that advertisers bemoan DVRs as they let you pass through the commercials, I still have to SEE what is passing by my eyes as I forward through the commercials. I admit that some commercials seem to be done well enough that you can still get the idea of what is being advertised even as one zips through them. So even DVR commercials get some eyeballs, to a degree. And if NBC thinks that the 10:00 PM time slot just isn’t worth viewers eyes, and if they think less and less people are watching at that time anyway because people simply just want to get to bed, then why don’t they just turn over the time slot to the local affiliates for their news as Fox does? That would save them a bundle of money, wouldn’t it? From my perspective, NBC has made this change all about costs, and throwing Jay Leno into the mix is really just a stunt to try to grab whatever they can on the cheap. NBC also seems to be admitting that the don’t have a creative clue on how to come up with exciting programs for five hours a week to fill the 10:00 PM time slot. It’s almost too hard to believe.

Let’s not forget how this move could also sabotage the changeover to Conan O’Brien as host of the Tonight Show. A few years back, CNBC used to show recent reruns of Conan’s Late Night show, and I watched them every day. I grew to really like Conan and personally felt that his show was infinitely better that Leno’s. Sure, I tried to watch Leno a few times but I just can’t tolerate him. The thought of having him on at 10:00 PM every weeknight makes me feel as excited as I was hearing about Rosie O’Donnell and her failed variety show – which is not excited at all, in case you were wondering. In fact, both Rosie and Jay send me feeling from the TV, albeit for different reasons. But now, if people who watch Jay now at the late night hour can watch him at 10:00 PM, why stay up late to watch Conan?

This also brings up the issue of the local affiliates, who currently have a scripted show leading up to their 11:00 PM local newscasts. If less people tune in for Leno, it may mean less people turning in for the local news afterwards. I’m sure they are less than thrilled with NBC right now, since it seems NBC just threw them under the bus.

I have a tendency to agree with Les Moonves that this move will only mean sunnier days and more viewers for CBS, and likely ABC as well. Think about this: two of NBC popular main stays are Law & Order and Law & Order SVU. Now, those viewers who used to watch those shows at 10:00 will likely still gravitate to another drama on another network. Then, NBC may find that when they pit these two shows up against other shows airing at 8:00 or 9:00 PM that are already well established, that they will draw less viewers for Law & Order and SVU than if they aired at 10:00 PM. If they were looking to try to kill the Law & Order franchise, they may have just found the vehicle to do so. Dick Wolf is probably going crazy at the prospect.

If I turn out wrong about this move I’ll be the first to admit it. One thing is for sure, it will be interesting to see how ABC and CBS structure their new fall lineup. I suspect that they are already working on the issue, anticipating dealing a knockout punch to NBC. After all, NBC already put themselves on the ropes.

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1 comment:

Music Wench said...

Thankfully, Criminal Intent is off that network as a first run show. NBC has sucked since they let Dave Letterman go. From that point on it was a slow, downhill slide to where it is today.