The announcement couldn't come at a worse time for NBC, which has seen its prime-time dominance eroded to an ascendant CBS. CBS now leads in terms of households and among adults 25-54, the top demographic among national advertisers, though NBC still leads among younger demos, according to an analysis of Nielsen Media Research data from Magna Global USA.
The retirement of "Frasier," meanwhile, represents the loss of a perennial critics', Emmy Awards and Nielsen ratings favorite. The announcement, which was made Monday during the Television Critics Association's network "Press Tour" in Los Angeles, also marks the end of a 20-year stint for the Dr. Frasier Crane character created by actor Kelsey Grammer on its precursor series "Cheers." While "Frasier" was considered to be nearing its final season, NBC executives had been leaving the door open for a 12th season.
With the departure of two top-rated series and with the relatively weak performance of its new 2003-04 season series, NBC will be especially dependent on its new prime-time development to maintain its market stature.
Of the six new prime-time series it introduced this season, only three - "Las Vegas," "Whoopi" and "Happy Family" - have been picked up for full season orders for next year, while one - "Miss Match" - is deemed on the "endangered list," according to a season status report released by media agency Carat last week.
Carat's Fall Series Status
Extinct/Hiatus Endangered List Full Season Order
ABC 1 2 4
CBS 1 0 5
NBC 2 1 3
Fox 3 2 2
UPN 1 0 4
WB 1 2 3
Total 9 7 21
Source: Carat Broadcast Beat, fourth quarter 2003 prime-time network TV report.