Stronger NBC Hopes For More High-Rated Shows - And Luck

Pasadena, Calif. -- Hard to argue with NBC's success this past fall -- but now the hard work begins, as its big NFL "Sunday Night Football" has completed its fall season run and high-rated "The Voice" takes a two-month break.

Through 14 weeks of the season so far, NBC is up 24% among 18-49 viewers and 19% higher with total viewers versus a year ago. Only CBS averages more in total viewers. Speaking at the Television Critics Association meeting here on Sunday, Robert Greenblatt, chairman of NBC Entertainment, said: "We had to get a little lucky -- which we did this fall." 

Greenblatt also strongly credits the big promotion from the Summer Olympics in August and the promotion platform and the big lead-in time periods of having two nights of its singing competition show "The Voice." NBC also benefited heavily from "Sunday Night Football" this past fall, as well as new drama "Revolution." 

Not only was NBC the only broadcast network to see viewer gains, Greenblatt says the network reversed its median age trend, getting younger in terms of overall viewers -- something which is important to national TV advertisers. This is a rare occurrence for broadcast networks, he says.



NBC went lower to a 48.4 median age, down from 49.0. Other networks went higher: CBS rose to 56.4, ABC was up to a 53.2, and Fox is now at 45.7. Even young-skewing CW is no longer so young -- hitting a median age of 41.2 -- up four years versus a year ago, says Greenblatt.

NBC's success is partly the result of less time-shifting of its major shows -- "Sunday Night Football" and "The Voice." Still, NBC executives say new TV-video technology -- DVR and other time-shifted technology, as well as the new digital platforms such as Hulu (where NBCUniversal is a financial partner)  -- are just a current state of TV affairs for any senior TV executive to consider.

Greenblatt said: "We've given the audience all these tools -- it's our fault... [It includes] platforms like Hulu, some of which we can get monetized. We can't stick our head in the sand saying this is a terrible state of affairs. We are trying our best. Half of our day -- more than half our day -- we spend thinking about how to get people to come to the network at the time we schedule the shows."

NBC has made big improvements on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights this past fall. Now its emphasis will be to boost Thursday night for mid-season and beyond. For example, two of its long-time comedies are starting at the end of this season -- "30 Rock" and "The Office."

Upcoming for mid-season, starting in January, NBC will air four originally scripted shows -- three new scripted shows: "1600 Penn," "Do No Harm," "Deception" and returning scripted show "Smash." There will also be three reality shows -- returning series "Celebrity Apprentice" and "The Biggest Loser" and new series "Ready for Love."

"The Voice" will return in March and will run through June. Rookie-hour drama success "Revolution" will also start up again in March.

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