Sunday, 17 October 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #615: Unstoppable Network Freefall, Or What?

Welcome to the show folks...

You know, I'm almost at the point where I can feel sorry for a major multinational corporation.


Pity poor NBC, their 10 pm schedule is doing even worse than when they had that black hole called the
Jay Leno Show. Their revenues are down, and The Tonight Show is doing even worse than Conan's tour of duty in key demographics, and Letterman's catching up to him, despite even his numbers not being anywhere near where they used to be.

It looks like this season, Jeff Zucker's last, is a
total washout, new shows can't attract viewers, existing shows can't keep viewers, and Comcast is going to have a really tough time rebuilding this pretty much shattered company.

You see NBC is in worse shape than just being behind the other big broadcast networks, it's suffering from years of mismanagement on a fundamental level.

Let's look at the field that NBC has to play on, and how viewers see its competition.

CBS: A bit old fashioned, a bit stodgy, but for the most part reliable when it comes to providing entertaining shows.

ABC: Mostly seen as the "chick network" because they've done well with female oriented programming like Grey's Anatomy, but a tad erratic with shows that have hot beginnings that then grow cold after a few seasons, like Ugly Betty.

FOX: The audience sees Fox as the hyperactive kid brother, eager to please, but often immature and silly, but occasionally capable of producing breakout hits, that they quickly make annoying through over-exposure.

This is the network that tried to take the audience out of the network TV equation. For years they thought that if they played the margins, and had enough product placement, you didn't need actual viewers to make money. The audience saw this, even when they didn't know it consciously, and stayed away. While CBS is viewed as comfortable an reliable, NBC is viewed as unpleasant, and unreliable.

This is a hard fall for the network that was once the home of the mega-hits like Seinfeld, Friends, Cheers, and The Cosby Show.

This will be Comcast's challenge when they take over NBC-Universal. They need to bring the audience back into the equation. They have to rebuild the brand as the home of actual 'must-see-TV' instead of its current status as 'must avoid TV.'

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