Good News Ratings Aren't Helping NBC's Primetime


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.

3 comments about "Good News Ratings Aren't Helping NBC's Primetime".
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  1. Mark Walker from aka Media Mark, November 28, 2011 at 5:49 p.m.

    "Does that mean viewers go to NBC for serious, real-life stuff?"
    No, more than likely it is that the rest of the JUNK on NBC isn't worth watching- or is programmed against much better fare on CBS. I can only name one other show, Parenthood, that I am familiar with (other than the 5th or 6th Law and Order spin-off).

  2. Nancy Corbett from Active Media Services, November 28, 2011 at 7:43 p.m.

    NBC needs to get back to its roots of great drama (L&O-SVU, the original L&O, Friday Night Lights, ER, West Wing and way back to Hill St. Blues, St. Elsewhere) and winning comedy (Friends, Will & Grace, 3rd Rock from the Sun) programming. Like Mark, I would be hard pressed to name any of the NBC primetime shows other than L&O-SVU and 30 Rock (which I never watch). Nothing else is memorable. Come on NBC - you can do much better than Playboy Club. Look at the consistent shows in the weekly top 10/20 (the majority coming from CBS) and produce quality programming to give the competition a "run for their money". You've done it in the past and you can do it again!!

  3. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, November 29, 2011 at 8:31 p.m.

    Does anyone surmise low end programming comes from lower end budgets to keep costs and future costs down to sell to Comcast? Just a suggestion.

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