Why 10 p.m. Broadcast News Programs Make Sense For Local Stations -- And Their Networks

Moaning about "Rock Center with Brian Williams" and its low ratings (under 2 million viewers)?

Hey, these things take time and, more importantly, you may not be considering the overall picture: what the 10 p.m. slot is becoming and what the show means to the late news shows on NBC’s affiliates.

Running "Rock Center" not only helps by providing a more seamless lead-in, but gives stations the higher-level patina of “NBC Nightly News” anchor Williams.

Sure the set costs a lot of money, but overall production is cheaper than with $3 million per episode dramas.

There are also continued much lower ratings for 10 p.m. network dramas, with research increasingly showing the time period as an ever-bigger playground for time-shifted viewing. You might remember that a key reason NBC put Jay Leno on at 10 p.m. was because viewers would want to watch him live.



For the most part, the same is true with news programs. Viewers would rather watch them live. And the 10 p.m. ones keep viewers sticking around to watch their local station’s late newscasts. They’re good lead-ins.

Yes, lead-ins. For years, people have talked about appointment television, saying that viewers skip around from network to network, and that lead-in and lead-out programming is not so important. Well, that is not entirely true. Programmers continue to put shows behind an "American Idol" finale, the Super Bowl or high-rated comedies like "Big Bang Theory" or "Modern Family" because they pull in more viewers.

Some may complain that NBC running a bunch of comedies on Thursday, and switching to "Rock Center" at 10 p.m. will be a major disruption to audience flow next season. Comedies skew young. News programming? The other end of the spectrum -- older viewers, who remain a crucial audience target for stations’ late newscasts.

The truth is that, at 10 p.m. NBC and other networks are now turning into different kinds of programmers. Might shows like "Dateline NBC," "Primetime," or "20/20" join the push on a more full-time basis?


1 comment about "Why 10 p.m. Broadcast News Programs Make Sense For Local Stations -- And Their Networks".
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  1. Michele Brown from GDC, May 16, 2012 at 6:03 p.m.

    Rock Center is some of the best journalistic work out there. Could it be the reason it has low ratings is that NBC continues to move the time slot!? For those playing the home game, announced today, they are moving-- again. We could only HOPE our local news was as good as Brian Williams and the rest of the Rock crew. Alas, they are not.

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