Broadcast Networks Go Outside Their Inside Studio Ties

So much for broadcast network studio synergy. Now it seems broadcast networks really have to look for the best shows - whether or not they are made by their respective sister Hollywood studios production companies.

For this fall's season, NBC has only taken 33 percent of its new series from its NBC Universal Television Studios - otherwise known somewhat comically as NUTS. Considering how far NBC sank this season they would be indeed nuts not the take the best programming available. Of course, the reality is that NBC has been doing this for years.

Over its great stretch run as the No. 1 network in the land - through the late '80s, '90s, and beyond - NBC has relied on studio diversity: Warner Bros. for major hits such as "Friends" and "ER"; Paramount Television for "Cheers" and "Frasier"; and Sony Pictures Television for "Seinfeld'; and Universal Studios for all the "Law & Order" programs.



The irony is that after finally joining the ranks of other media companies and buying a studio last year for its production needs - Universal Studios - NBC fell fast and far this season, coming in fourth place.

Of course, for the last 15 years, any TV network executive worth their salt would have always said, officially, their network went after the best programming regardless of its parent company's production connections.

But that wasn't always the case for companies like ABC and its production entity Touchstone, which at times would take virtually its entire fall slate from the production company. And look where it took them before this season arrived.

This year, only 45 percent of ABC's large new lineup of shows comes from Touchstone, which means we can take ABC Entertainment President Stephen McPherson at his word, it's all about the good shows and good content.

Viacom still seems the laggard in this regard. Sixty-three percent of CBS' new shows come from sister studio Paramount Television - the most of the big four networks. It's hard to argue with CBS' success, of course. Paramount does its job even better with sister network UPN, in which it gave the mini-network 100 percent of its news shows.

Though the networks have been saying they want the best shows no matter where they come from, it appears this time, when the competition is crazier, fiercer, and quicker, they mean it.

Warner Bros. Television President Peter Roth said it well: "This is recognition of the importance of the quality of execution of the pilots. What's most important to the public -- and what should be most important to the networks -- is where can we find the next great hit."

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