If viewers aren't giving NBC all the credit it deserves, at least TV marketers are.
This is according to Ben Silverman,
co-chairman of NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios. Silverman,
the high-profile, highly scrutinized NBC executive, said humbly at the New York Television Festival: "Every single first-year show we've launched has an advertising partner in place... which has
probably never happened in broadcast TV."
One reckons maybe in the early days of TV, the late '40s and early '50s, there may have been a lot of these kinds of deals. But, OK -- we get the
This new version of network operations has a lot to do with NBC's bottom line. Virtually all of the Silverman-instituted shows are reality TV series -- long known to easily
lure TV advertisers, especially with integration deals.
Even though recent efforts like "America's Toughest Jobs" didn't complete its toughest job -- earning decent ratings --
Silverman pointed to the new "cost" and "revenue" structure at the network, of which "Jobs" was probably a prime example.
For instance, Chrysler was "Jobs'" advertising partner. NBC
changed its schedule, running the show this summer instead of the planned 2009 summer launch, because of a new model the automaker wanted to release.
One might question whether
rushing this show to market had NBC getting the wrong end of the financial equation, considering the less than desirable ratings the show received.
Silverman and other NBC executives
might argue that high-paying advertising partners bring down the average cost per TV episode -- which is the real message Silverman's boss, Jeff Zucker, president/CEO of NBC Universal, can pleasantly
report to the higher-ups at General Electric.
Zucker has done a decent job in convincing the TV world and the press that it's not all about how NBC prime-time shows are fairing ratings-wise
-- that there are other dayparts, other NBC Universal networks, other digital platforms to consider. Wall Street money managers and research executives lap that stuff up because it's futurist thinking
-- though it's just the short-term mindset that moves stock prices.
Even then NBC,
and other broadcast networks, continue to benefit from the against-the-grain TV
advertising market -- such as this past upfront, which garnered some nice medium-sized price increases while the U.S. economy continues to weaken.
All this continues to clobber us on
the head that isn't always about ratings, schedules, or whether or not Chris Matthews or Keith Olbermann can separate opinion from news reporting.
NBC looks to make money. But if it gets
one or two breakout shows this season, those network executives will really be unbearable to listen to -- claiming not only that they're good financial operators, but that they culturally
understand what U.S. TV viewers want