NBC Still Needs Help With Scripted Prime-Time Programming

NBC's efforts to boost its scripted TV programming have taken another hit with its cancellations of plans for a new Cosby sit-com.

As with his previous NBC show, Cosby would have played the avuncular patriarch of a big family, which wouldn’t work with his currently tainted image.

There was no guarantee that Cosby, now 77 years old, would have brought back big ratings, anyway.  Two former big TV talents -- Michael J. Fox, with “The Michael J. Fox Show” on NBC and the late Robin Williams with “The Crazy Ones” on CBS -- failed to garner  second-year renewals for their recent efforts.

Still, NBC does very well in prime time. With the singing competition show “The Voice” and NFL “Sunday Night Football,” it continues to lead all networks in key viewing metrics.

But NBC only has one show, second-year drama, “The Blacklist,” in the top 20 of TV network scripted shows in Nielsen’s C3 metric among 18-49 viewers through the first six weeks of the season, according to MoffettNathanson Research.  (C3 ratings are average commercial ratings plus three days of time-shifted viewing.)



By way of comparison, CBS has eight shows in the top 20, while ABC has seven and Fox, four.

Looking at the bottom 20 C3 18-49 shows, NBC has the most, seven; ABC and Fox have five each; and CBS has three

NBC’s bottom seven are “Grimm,” “Parenthood” (in its last season), “About A Boy,” “Mysteries of Laura,” “Constantine”; “Bad Judge” (already canceled), and “A-To-Z” (also canceled).

We are not philistines here at TV Watch. We know the TV world doesn’t revolve only around scripted shows.

But given that cable TV programmers have some renowned entries in this field, and that digital services like Netflix are ramping up their original scripted output, high-rated scripted shows should still be a strong component of a broadcast network.

NBC needs to do better.

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