New Network Model: Fewer Than 22 Hours A Week?

The deepening funk over new TV shows has NBC Universal's Jeff Zucker saying 22 prime-time hours of scripted programming a week should be a thing of the past.

Instead, Zucker says to look more at Fox -- only programming 15 hours a week. It seems to be an advantage.

One wonders whether Zucker might have been intimating 22 hours of week of any programming is too much for a broadcasting network, that perhaps he wishes NBC, like Fox, would have less programming time to fill overall.

Zucker did not come close to saying that NBC would be giving back program time to TV stations. But considering previous proclamations about networks losing money during the 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. slot, it's a tempting direction for networks to follow.

No one wants to give up valuable shelf space in this marketplace. But the digital shelf space is cheap and unlimited -- something NBC, or, or the CBS Audience Network, is counting on in future years.

The thinking could be that NBC would do better to produce programming -- in future years -- for a digital platform only, rather than lose money in the 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. time period.

Right now, this kind of move to digital would be short-sighted. TV is still a powerful marketing medium that can easily boost awareness for digital media platforms. Programming really doesn't happen the other way around. See "Quarterlife" if you have any questions.

If NBC gives up any program time, it won't exactly be good news for TV stations. Sure they'll get to program what they want and keep all the advertising time. But the increasing downside is that programming will be even more expensive to produce and market.

Perhaps stations and syndicators should try and resurrect the 1990s one-hour weekly drama business of a few years ago, with a slew of new "Baywatch"s, "Star Trek"s, and "Xenia: Warrior Princess"s.

Many stations might also convince themselves that an extra-early evening hour -- attached to their already lucrative 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. time slot (6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Central Time) -- could be built for all-family TV shows. TV pressure groups have complained the networks have abandoned the early evening, so-called family hour. Still, convincing advertisers is another story.

NBC already is down to one show in daytime. In a separate news announcement, NBC said on Wednesday it was looking to sell off its Hartford, Conn, and Miami outlets, wanting to focus on just a few big markets.

Notice a trend here



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