TV news is good news for NBC. The top-rated "NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams" with 9.1 million average viewers -- is outperforming NBC’s primetime lineup
average of 7.0 million.
Apart from NBC's "Sunday Night Football" (19.7 million), no other NBC primetime show gets more than 7.3 million viewers. (That high number goes to "Law & Order: SVU”).
Does that mean viewers go to NBC for serious, real-life stuff? Hey, that's not a bad brand association.
NBC News has made a serious effort in all its news efforts -- including MSNBC, “Dateline NBC,” and other TV platforms. Though many might consider some of those platforms a little more fringe -- heavy on the opinion, heavy on the entertainment, and sensationalistic -- they tell a good TV business story.
Of course, the downside is who comprises this news audience --- generally much older viewers. This is why you see plenty of pharmaceutical commercials as well as some financial messages on many of these programs.
For all its problems, NBC is still tops in its non-primetime programming -- not only early evening news, but early morning programming with "The Today Show" and late night with "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno." In most instances, these shows would function as good promotional vehicles for new NBC programming. But NBC hasn't had the goods to benefit from any of these marketing platforms.
The good news is that NBC in primetime continues to have the second youngest median age -- 48.8 -- of the top four broadcast networks (Fox is first at 47).
This seems to be why NBC tried to take its strong news star, Brian Williams, to another level by having him host a new primetime news show, "Rock Center."
At less than a 1.0 rating among 18-49ers, "Rock Center" doesn't seem like much of a success, though, to be sure, the show is being produced for a fraction of the cost of other primetime shows. Also consider that NBC News programs skew perhaps slightly younger than their main competitors.
One might think -- as in the old days -- that strong ratings from early news shows might help primetime shows. The good ratings of "NBC Nightly News" seem like a silver lining. Yet they don’t do much for improving the prospects of anything primetime at the network turning into gold.