Olympics Fails To Give NBC Prime Needed Push
No surprise here: NBC is using its prime-time Olympic real estate as a platform to try and reignite its 10 p.m. time slot. But a top Madison Avenue researcher cast doubt on the Games as a promotional vehicle, which could be a factor in the bidding for the 2014 and 2016 international competitions.
Hearkening back to 2008, former Magna executive Steve Sternberg wrote Wednesday that NBC's promo barrage during the Beijing Games proved largely ineffective in jump-starting new scripted series: comedy "Kath & Kim" and drama "My Own Worst Enemy." Both failed to run full seasons on the network.
Returning shows "Lipstick Jungle" and "Chuck" -- also heavily promoted -- suffered a similar fate. The first was canceled during the 2008-09 season, and "Chuck" teetered in that direction, although it was brought back the following fall.
"Neither the Summer nor Winter Games ... has proved to be fertile ground for bringing in viewers to regular prime-time series," Sternberg wrote.
To be sure, there were some mitigating factors. The shows were not critical darlings. And they premiered in the fall of 2008 -- more than a month after the torch was extinguished in China.
Separately, NBC has said it is positioned to lose $250 million on the current Vancouver Games. And if the Olympics become a loss leader going forward, networks would at least want an umbrella effect, with the Games helping to promote regular series. NBC's strategy on bidding for the 2014 and 2016 Games is unknown, and the International Olympic Committee process has not moved into high gear.
With NBC returning to traditional-type programming at 10 p.m. after the current Games, given the "Jay Leno" cancellation, Sternberg believes promos are now of "a greater importance."
The new series receiving the most airtime are the March debuts of two 10 p.m. shows: the drama "Parenthood" and Jerry Seinfeld-fronted reality show "The Marriage Ref." Both will push 10 promos over the first four nights of NBC prime-time coverage, Sternberg said.