You remember that kid that you knew in high school or college that no matter what they did, it only further proved their social desperation? Or that would-be lover whose every move, whatever that move might be, was further proof that he was obsessed? It seems like NBC has been about reaching that point. A couple years ago I made the following discovery about NBC:

It’s surprising how poorly NBC as a whole is doing. CBS is canceling sitcoms in the 60’s (The Class was at #65 and was cancelled, there was talk of How I Met Your Mother being cancelled at #61) and NBCs highest rated sitcom is #58. NBC has no shows in the top 10 and only two in the top 20.

When I was growing up, there were only three networks. Fox was bold for attempting to be the fourth. NBC had Cosby and Cheers and later Frasier, Friends, and Seinfeld. I don’t know if they were on top the whole time, but they were always right up there. It’s hard to fully wrap my hands around the idea that the once giant is now in a distant fourth place. The original network, predating CBS by a year and spawning ABC down the road.

Articles like this don’t breed much faith. Most of you have probably heard that they’re giving Jay Leno a variety show at 10/9pm, which cuts off hourly dramas. I can only hope that Life doesn’t become one of the shows cut.

Then again, maybe they’re on a right track. NBC has yet to call me up and ask for my opinion, but it seems like one of the best ways to get back into the fray is to try different things. Fox succeeded by getting people to watch things that they swore they wouldn’t watch, like cartoons with dirty jokes and early reality TV. One angle that NBC has talked about is having year-round roll-outs rather than the fall pilots, which could be a great idea. Another idea might be having TV movies that are actually good. Surely NBC owns the rights to some good movie options that they won’t be spending a full movie budget on any time soon.

There are also certain demographics that are being ignored by the other major networks: younger senior citizens, Christians, conservatives, families, residents in places that are not located on the east coast, west coast, or Chicago. It seems to me that there is a big blind spot in making shows that producers generally don’t want to make because they’re unhip but nonetheless are or would be popular with viewers. It seems that a lot of the TV and movies being made are the kinds of things that Hollywood writers and directors want to make rather than what people like to see. Ever notice how some shows once they succeed spawn like ten knock-offs but others spawn maybe one or don’t spawn any. Where were the attempts to ape the popularity of Touched By An Angel and Seventh Heaven? I think that the audience was there, but not so much for the creative energy in Hollywood that equates gritty and edge with realistic and artistic. I say this as someone that hated Touched By An Angel and preferred the concept of Book of Daniel to Seventh Heaven. I just think that part of the problem is too many networks are trying to appeal to people like me (who are, in turn, people like them) and not enough on less hip consumers. I think that NBC could, if it wanted to, really take advantage of that.

Category: Theater

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4 Responses to The Fall of NBC

  1. Peter says:

    Some reports have described putting Leno on at 10pm might be an attempt to attract older viewers who aren’t able to stay up too late. That’s possible, but my guess is that it’ll be younger working people who are more likely to start watching.

  2. Becky says:

    I think I’m still considered a young person and I can’t stay up past 10:30 anymore b/c I need my 8 hours of sleep. I might watch if I don’t have anything in my DVR. They’re just starting to count in DVR viewings, so I wonder if that will start to impact their decisions on what to cancel. I don’t watch anything live anymore

    Still, NBC seems like they got to comfortable and refused to stay current or trying to set a trend, instead of running ER well past its prime.

  3. Webmaster says:

    Where were the attempts to ape the popularity of Touched By An Angel and Seventh Heaven?

    Buried in mainstream hollywood hatred of christianity, more than likely.

  4. trumwill says:

    I think the main thing is that Leno is one of their better commodities and even though they have to eject him from his time slot this is probably the next best thing they could do.

    I agree with what you say about NBC. How long have ER and L&O been on the air? Nothing wrong with keeping popular shows around, but they really should be looking for the next big thing.

    I still maintain that it’s primarily a product of those types of shows not being the types of shows that they dreamed of making when they went to Hollywood… but it’s probably equally true that the types of shows that they would rather be making would be more hostile to religion.

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