As NBC's Cloudy Situation Finds A Clearing, Can It Follow The Light?

Hello, TV shoppers! (TV advertising shoppers, that is). On sale now -- and just in time for the upfront market -- a certifiable hit for NBC!

The second episode of NBC's "Idol"-like show, "The Voice," rocketed up 8% from its first outing to a big-for-broadcast-these-days 5.6 rating. "The Voice," from Mark Burnett, is easily the highest rated new show of this season -- and perhaps the only one to get more viewers for its second episode than its first.

The team singing concept -- straight out of Burnett's "Survivor" team playbook -- seems to be one of the key reasons for the show's popularity. Judges like Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton also compete with each other. (Each of them heads up the singing teams). So there is extra drama here. The drama later on will no doubt focus on the singing contestants themselves -- perhaps bickering with one another, the usual reality show fodder.

Blind auditions are also a key feature. Judges' chairs are turned around so they can't see and only hear. It's all about "the voice" after all.  This is all in contrast to "American Idol"'s more straight-ahead singing competition.

What does this mean for NBC? That there is hope -- which is the right sentiment to give marketers on the heels of the upfront market. Every investor wants to buy at the bottom of a market just before an upturn. Take Pepsi. It senses that Fox's upcoming "The X-Factor" from Simon Cowell will be the next big thing -- possibly rivaling "American Idol - so it outbid Coke for a major sponsorship.

Viewing "The Voice," I didn't see any beverage-branded glasses aside the judges. But you know that lots of product placements and branded entertainment are coming -- especially with Burnett who broke lots of ground here with "Survivor" and "The Apprentice".

These days, one real big-rated show can make up for a lot of failure. "The Voice" will look to do just that. NBC hopes to move into Fox territory -- where multi-hours of "Idol" on multiple networks can really get the ball rolling. That said. It will need more of what Fox also has -- shows like "House," "Family Guy," and "Glee" are no slouches. NBC needs two to three supporting shows producing 3.0 to 4.0 rating points with 18-49 year-olds.

The beauty of TV is that one big hit show can give a network momentum, not only raising the profile of existing quality shows but luring in better producers --  and advertisers with more money.



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