Through November, the once miserably rated NBC had somehow, inexplicably risen to the top network in the prized 18-49 demographic, after years of struggling. The network was riding high on the success of Sunday Night Football, The Voice and their new drama, Revolution. Things were going well for the network. The new president of the company, Bob Greenblatt, was feeling cocky, often boasting about how he’d turned the network around.
But then January came. Sunday Night Football ended its season. The Voice and Revolution went on hiatus, and in a very short period of time, NBC plummeted back down to its fourth-place position in the ratings. How did it happen, and how did it happen so quickly? Here’s a look at NBC’s seven most boneheaded mistakes in the last six weeks.
7. NBC decided to pull its SOLE new hit of the season, Revolution, for a show called Deception, which no one watches. Revolution’s ratings hovered around 3.5, while Deception is around 1.3. Also, Bob Greenblatt reduced Revolution’s order by two episodes to make room for Deception.
6. Much of NBC’s early season success was attributed to the modest success of the Matthew Perry sitcom, Go On and New Normal, which were inexplicably scheduled to go up against more established sitcoms on two other channels (Happy Endings and New Girl). After it was all said and done, all of those sitcoms were damaged, but none more than Go On and New Normal, which — without their The Voice lead-ins — fell to ratings similar to that of Guys with Kids and below Whitney, 1.1 – 1.3.
5. Part of the reason that both Community and 30 Rock received shortened, 13-episode orders was to make room for mid-season replacements, which were expected to perform better in the ratings. Eventually, however, Community was shifted over to replace 30 Rock and that mid-season replacement, 1600 Penn, receives a 1.3 rating. In fact, its ratings are so bad and it is so reviled by critics that it’s been preempted this week for an additional episode of The Office. It would probably be canceled if NBC had anything else to put in the slot, but it axed its Dane Cook sitcom before it even aired.
4. Despite tepid ratings, the well liked Up All Night returned for a second season with a retooled format. It didn’t matter. Ratings continued to fall. NBC pulled the show with the intention of reformatting it as a multi-camera laugh track sitcom. During the hiatus, the showrunner quit, and eventually, so did the show’s lead, Christina Applegate. Nevertheless, this week, NBC inexplicably decided to move forward and film ONE episode in the new format without Applegate. Why? God knows.
3. For a full month before it was set to air, promos for the mid-season drama Do No Harm could not be avoided. Despite heavy promotional efforts, however, the show debuted with the lowest ratings ever for a series debut (0.9 in the demo), and then fell even further in its second week (0.7) before it was canceled. The one upside to this, however, was that NBC found out that Rock Center with Brian Williams had better ratings in its Friday slot than the Thursday slot. What will NBC do? Probably move it back to Thursday in a few weeks.
2. NBC came in the 2012-2013 season with the idea that “broader is better” with their choice of sitcoms. The strategy failed. Animal Practice was quickly canceled, while Guys with Kids and Whitney perform poorly in the ratings. In fact, the “niche” comedies, Parks and Recreation, The Office, and even Community are performing better than the “broader” comedies.
1. Despite a huge promotional effort, personnel turnover, and a lot of hopes pinned on the second-season return of Smash, the premiere debuted with a 1.1 rating in the 18-49 demo, essentially hammering the nail into the coffin of NBC’s once promising 2012-2013 season. Parenthood, which received a shortened 15-episode order to make room for Smash, was receiving a 1.7 rating in the demo. At this point, NBC’s schedule has been pretty much decimated, besides one bright light in a sea of suck: Parks and Recreation‘s audience continues to grow.
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