NBC considers canceling an hour of primetime
The Future. NBC is considering canceling the 10 pm-11 pm slot of its primetime programming and handing it back to affiliates. There are still a few kinks to work out, but if the decision is finalized, it may be the first nail in the coffin of scripted programming on broadcast as streaming steals the audience (and ad dollars).
Sending primetime to bed early
According to WSJ, NBC may drop an hour of its once-golden primetime schedule.
- NBC is discussing possibly dropping the 10 pm-11 pm hour from its programming lineup, which lately has been reserved for drama (a lot from Dick Wolf). Those shows could get moved to replace others in a major scheduling shakeup.
- NBC would instead give that hour back to local TV stations, who would then be charged with programming content (and giving them more ad revenue).
- The network would then move up its late-night programming, possibly starting The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon an hour earlier… and getting a jump on the competition.
- If NBC does decide to go through with the plan, it wouldn’t be able to start the new primetime scheduling until the fall of 2023.
The move is meant to be a cost-cutting measure as broadcast viewership declines and the audience migrates to streaming. It would save tens of millions of dollars in content cuts.
Although Warner Bros. Discovery recently cut all scripted programming from its cable channels like TNT and TBS, NBCUniversal’s move would be the first time one of the three big broadcast networks (NBC, ABC, CBS) didn’t program three hours of entertainment since the dawn of television.
But, that time is becoming more focused on live programming like sports and game shows, as the networks try to show content that doesn’t compete with the streamers. Expect those millions of saved dollars to get re-invested into more content like that (Big Ten college football alone will now cost NBC $350 million annually).
Ironically, broadcast is still a big moneymaker for NBCUniversal, especially as Peacock’s growth in the US is grounded and the service relies on new NBC shows to shore up its library. The network even showed one of its Peacock originals, The Resort, during primetime to help boost viewership.