NBC wins a little, losses a little with the writers strike

by Paul William Tenny

Here's a thought: NBC seems like it has benefited the most from the writers strike, and is also suffering the worst of it. How funky is that? They won Monday outright, and came in second on "American Idol Tuesday." Without Idol, NBC may have won that day, too. And yet here is a network that has be stuck in fourth for the past few years after the demise of its extremely popular sitcoms, giving money back to advertisers because it knew it couldn't meet its ratings promises.

A recent earnings report showed that for parent General Electric, USA out-earned NBC by a ratio of nearly 6:1, and the once great broadcast net is not doing any upfront sales this year and is apparently in the process of deep-sixing its pilot program for good.
Just how NBC will pick new shows is unclear. The network has experimented with a couple of different ideas in the past year, including splitting the cost for a 13-episode adaptation of "Robinson Crusoe" with a European producer

I sure as heck hope NBC doesn't expect the talent to produce pilots themselves. If a broadcast network can't afford it, how the hell is the talent they are constantly short changing going to front $2-6 million for a pilot that, as NBC pointed out, may never make it to a series?

The real problem is has nothing to do with pilots costing too much, although excess may be a contributing factor, it's the networks shooting themselves in the foot by canceling new series before they've had a chance to make a profit. It doesn't matter if they think it stinks or if the ratings aren't the best in the land, if they give at least a third of them more time, they'll find an audience and start paying back what they cost.

Let us also not forget that the broadcast networks don't produce these shows in the first place, studios do. As an example, House may air on Fox, but NBC's television studio arm owns and produces the show, and guess what? Fox doesn't pay for it all.

Networks pay most of what each episode costs, but not all of it -- that burden falls on the studio who produces and owns the show. They make back the difference in syndication and buy releasing their shows on DVD. So really the networks have no business crying about pilot costs when they aren't even paying for the full thing in the first place, and are retarding their own efforts by giving early cancellations to the shows that they do actually order to series before they have a prayer of making some of that money back.

Sorry guys, you'll find on sympathy here for your retarded business models.
in Business, Ratings, Television


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