NBC is considering giving its 10pm slot to local stations, Variety has confirmed.
Insiders say this conversation has taken place several times over the past 10 years and stress that it is not the first time the option of giving affiliate time to the station has been discussed. Instead, this is just the latest in ongoing explorations and could result in no change at all.
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Additionally, sources say NBCU is not looking at this as a cost-cutting move that would lead to less programming, but one that could be made to better leverage its broadcast brand and relationship with its affiliates over streaming and cable options her.
It’s important to note that the new speculation about a 10 p.m. time slot, which comes just before NBC’s fall launch on September 19, doesn’t affect any new and returning series airing during that time. period of time, at least for now. The earliest NBC would consider implementing a shift that would hand the 10:00 hour to affiliates would be fall 2023. At that point, decisions will have to be made about what stays, what goes, what will change in an older slot or another night, and what might be a better fit for NBCU’s Peacock streamer.
Currently, NBC has the new reboot of “Quantum Leap,” new seasons of “New Amsterdam,” “Chicago PD” and “Law & Order: Organized Crime” all airing at 10 p.m.
There will also be no changes to late-night programming, including “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and “Late Night With Seth Meyers,” which air at 11:35 p.m. and 12:35 p.m., respectively. However, there’s a chance NBC might consider changing the start times for those talkers if the 10 p.m. delivered to affiliates — maybe half an hour or an hour earlier. (There is also a possibility that NBC stations may choose to schedule an hour and a half of news, keeping those evening talk shows in the same slot.)
“While NBC is the number one network, we are always looking at strategies to ensure our broadcast business remains as strong as possible,” an NBC spokesperson said in a statement to Variety Friday. “As a company, our strength lies in our ability to provide audiences with the content they love across broadcast, cable and streaming.”
NBC declined further comment.
NBC wouldn’t be the first broadcaster to leave 10pm to local stations, something Fox and the CW Network have been doing since their inception. Currently, NBC, ABC, and CBS are the only English-language broadcast networks that air at 10 p.m., usually dramas.
Each of the broadcasters has experienced declines in primetime viewership in the past as cable declines continue and their parent companies — and their parent companies’ competitors — experiment with streaming options that lead to increased competition for eyeballs.
It’s also not the first time NBC has considered shrinking its primetime footprint. As early as 1981, NBC considered moving “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” to primetime and conducted a study on doing so. In the mid-2000s, the network also approached Oprah Winfrey and David Letterman to host an 8 p.m. talk show, which would have also cut the rest of the slot to two hours. The network finally did so in 2009, as the ill-fated experiment to air “The Jay Leno Show” five days a week at 10 p.m. led to mass cancellation of primetime series as NBC adjusted its primetime schedule to reflect the loss of five hours in its lineup.
“The Jay Leno Show” quickly fell in the ratings and affiliates pulled the plug as it affected the lead in their late newscasts – forcing the network to move back scripts and other fare to the 10 p.m. (But that, in turn, led to the Great Talk Show Wars of 2010, when NBC decided to move Leno back to 11:35 p.m. — leading to Conan O’Brien’s exit from the Peacock.) Other networks that have dropped primetime stock over the years include The CW, when it dropped Sundays (before later bringing back the night), while Fox returned on Sundays at 10 p.m. affiliates, which that network briefly scheduled in the early 1990s. at 7:30 p.m.).
The Wall Street Journal first reported the news.
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