Deal With It: One Prime-Time Show Can't Make A Network

Looking for one show to change your network prime-time fortunes? Forget it. No deal--as in NBC's "Deal or No Deal."

Though NBC is running the show multiple times a week, the network says it really doesn't think the show will change the face, nose or ears of TV--even though "Deal" pulls in a steady and profitable 18 million regular viewers.

Unlike rash programming decisions of the recent past that filled network schedules with gamers almost every night of the week, NBC's "Deal or No Deal" is being handled with care.  

Instead of the show being groomed as a leading network star, it is a role player of sorts, a relief pitcher, or a transitional show that might nicely contribute for five years--until NBC can get off its feet.

Right now, its steady audiences are a prime reason NBC won Monday and Friday nights of last week.

NBC is counting on other shows to carry the torch. I'm talking about "My Name is Earl" and "The Office," and perhaps "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip"--shows that aren't, as yet, of the killer "CSI" or "Grey's Anatomy" variety.



NBC, and especially Endemol, the show's producer, would like to run "Deal" a little less than it does now, about twice a week.  Last year, when it debuted, it ran three times a week. Then it rested in the summer. But last week, it ran three times. 

NBC doesn't want to make the same mistake ABC did back in 2000 when it ran "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" up to four times a week, until ABC pulled it off the road from exhaustion.  But that was a different story--"Millionaire" was the top broadcast show with a massive 30 million viewer base.

Fewer runs would keep "Deal" special, and give Endemol some nice backend syndication business from the show--a la "Millionaire."

NBC likes "Deal" because it has a broad reach--men, women, children, young viewers, and older viewers. That means use it as a promotional platform to launch other shows.

But, like chocolate, which can be too much of a good thing, NBC should dole out "Deal" like a miser at Halloween.  That's a good lesson for any network looking for one specific show to carry the whole ball of wax.

That's also good for our entertainment digestive track.  Fewer dreams of suitcases full of money, fewer morning-after bellyaches.

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