Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Broadcast networks may cut back on programming

NBC has been struggling ratings-wise and they may make fewer hours of prime time available to their affiliates.

Jeff Zucker, president/CEO of NBC Universal, speaking at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference, said it was a possibility that NBC might consider trimming prime-time hours--or even a whole night of programming.

"Can we continue to broadcast 22 hours in prime time? Three of our competitors don't," he said during Monday's keynote. "Can we continue to broadcast seven days a week? One of our competitors doesn't."

The competitors he is referring to are My Network, the CW and Fox. My Network does not broadcast on Sundays and all 3 of the aforementioned networks have 2 hours of prime instead of 3. On Sundays, the big 3 networks have 4 hours of primetime. I wonder if we may see a merger of networks in the future. Maybe NBC would merge with CBS, or ABC would merge with Fox? In these tough economic times, merging companies seems to be all the rage. Many cities that used to have 2 newspapers have merged so they have one. The UPN network and WB network merged to form the CW.

NBC has only one soap opera, and that genre has been losing viewers steadily. According to TV Guide, in the past 10 years, daytime soap ratings have fallen as much as 50% for some shows. The top rated soap is CBS' The Young and the Restless and in the past 10 years its ratings have fallen from 7.9 million viewers to 4.9 million. NBC's Days of Our Lives took a steep fall, going from 5.4 million to 2.6 million. Guiding Light on CBS has fallen from 4.5 million to 2.1 million viewers. Longtime soap stars like Susan Lucci and Anthony Geary have had to take pay cuts. NBC fired its most popular soap stars, Deidre Hall and Drake Hogestyn, and the remaining cast has to take a pay cut of 40%.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Leno will stay at NBC

People have been wondering what will happen next year when Jay Leno leaves The Tonight Show. Conan O'Brien will move to 11:35 pm to follow in the footsteps of Jay Leno, Johnny Carson, Jack Paar and Steve Allen. Former SNL star Jimmy Fallon will take over the 12:35 am slot on NBC, which was previously occupied by Conan O'Brien, who replaced David Letterman in 1993. The associated press, The New York Times and are reporting that Leno will stay with NBC to host a show which will air at 10 pm weeknights. There were rumors about Leno pursuing a late night deal with ABC, or Fox, or a syndicated show. This will be a cost saving measure for the peacock network since talk shows are cheaper to produce than the dramas that often air in the 10 pm time slot. Leno will be able to reach a larger audience at 10 pm as opposed to 11:35 pm. NBC has been struggling compared to the other broadcast networks in terms of ratings. CBS is number one, largely due to their popular crime dramas such as their 3 versions of CSI, Without a Trace, Cold Case, NCIS, Criminal Minds, and the like. Fox has American Idol to bring in the big numbers, and ABC has Dancing with the Stars. The last episode of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno will be May 29, and Conan's first episode will be June 1. I am looking forward to it, and I think that Conan will have more success than Leno since he is funnier and better at interviews. Also, Conan is not someone who "plays it safe" as Leno does. I have never been impressed with Leno's watered down style of comedy, and I'd like to see someone with more of an edge at the helm of that show.