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%.