Fresh on the heels of getting slammed by some of the most prestigious writers in television, NBC now another new problem on their hands.
You know how you watch NBC shows on a local network affiliate? Well, what would happen if the local affiliates went under? If they had to close their doors, where would you watch NBC programming?
It's an extreme scenario for sure, but one that the NBC affiliates - and more importantly, their competition - are now aware of as potential reality if certain things don't break right for the Peacock.
I read this article yesterday and haven't been able to stop laughing at NBC's own demise ever since.
Basically here's what's going on (with a little back story):
- A couple of years ago, Leno announced he was "retiring" (or whatever he called it)
- Other networks got interested in Conan, so NBC promised him "The Tonight Show"
- Leno freaked because he realized he was so replaceable and announced he wanted to come back to late night
- NBC freaked because they had already filled their late night dance card but didn't want to lose Leno to a rival network
- In an unprecedented move, NBC LOST THEIR MINDS and wiped all original programming from the 10pm hour every night during the week to give to Leno
- As mentioned above, TV writers in the biz are now angry with (and some say secretly boycotting working for) NBC because the writers for those 10pm shows no longer have jobs
- NOW, affiliates are gravely concerned because they depend on good shows in the 10pm hour serving as lead-ins for the ONE THING THEY DO, their 11pm local news.
And anyone who's ever seen a television set before knows that NO ONE watches a late night comedy show after the first half hour.
Let me put it this way:
CBS airs their 17 versions of "CSI" mostly at 10pm. ABC airs shows like "Lost" at 10pm. Those network affiliates depend on good programming to lead-in to their local news so that they can sell advertising air time to local sponsors so that they can stay in business so that they can air network programming like "CSI" and "Lost".
What is NBC going to have on at 10:30pm as a lead-in for their local affiliates? Jay Freakin' Leno interviewing Turtle from "Entourage".
Do you see where I'm going with this?
Viewers are lazy. Some people have their favorite late local news station and will turn the channel to it regardless. But for the most part viewers are lazy. Even if you do find Leno's schtick in the first half hour amusing, you're telling me you're going to stick around for the interviews?
NBC has made an announcement that Leno will save some of his "funny stuff" for the last 15 minutes, but we've already established viewers are lazy!
Basically the Peacock is hoping that people will tune in at 10pm and COME BACK after the interviews.
Wow. I wish I had that kind of faith in anything.
So what's the fall out?
Worst case? Even if Leno puts up decent ratings nationally, NBC affiliates could start to struggle locally which would impact the overall NBC network system greatly.
Could it get to the point in this economy where some affiliates actually have to fold?
I have no idea.
Like I said, that's probably an extreme scenario. But people that are smarter than me are talking about it and I have to think it's for a reason.
I've just never seen a situation in which a network has tried to do more to help itself only to keep hurting itself the more it tries.
It will be interesting to see how it all plays out. Only a few more weeks 'til we know...