For three Sunday nights in May, NBC will run popular theatrical movies: "Along Came Polly," "National Treasure" and "Shrek." This will replace the network's current reality show lineup on these nights.
NBC says Sunday appears to be the best place to return to doing special events and mini-series--just as it has been for networks in the past. New NBC program scheduling chief Vince Manze recently said he would like the network to try its hand again in doing more special-event programming.
The network has not been competitive on Sunday night since its new "Sunday Night Football" series ended its fourth-quarter run. NFL football has improved NBC's ratings stature this season, even winning a few nights in key demographics. Since then, the network has fallen off the pace.
"ABC also had problems on Monday night after football," says one media agency executive. "Football is an anomaly. It is male and upscale. Trying to maintain that after football is hard to do."
Since "Sunday Night Football," NBC has run a variety of reality-show lineups, including "Deal or No Deal," "The Apprentice" and reality programs, witnessing weak rating results from the move.
NBC's move, however, is a throwback. Sunday night had traditionally been a major movie night for all the networks. During recent years, all gradually shifted to series programming because theatrical, as well as original film ratings, took a tumble.