30 Rock is the latest NBC comedy to get a reunion show during the age of coronavirus, with a one-off special slated for Thursday on NBC. But according to a report, the episode won’t be as easy to find on traditional TV in some markets as the mothership would like. According to Vulture, some NBC affiliates are essentially boycotting the episode because of concerns that it’s essentially an ad for Peacock, the network’s upcoming streaming service.
Vulture reported on Tuesday that about half of the televisions in America won’t be able to watch the special on NBC on Thursday thanks to a large number of TV station groups deciding to pre-empt the show with other programming.
Vulture has learned that Gray Television, Hearst, Nexstar, Tegna, and Sinclair Broadcast Group — huge TV-station groups whose NBC affiliates reach about half the country’s TV homes — have told NBC that they are planning to preempt Thursday’s remotely filmed hour.
If it seems strange that NBC affiliates would not want the eyeballs that will likely come with Liz Lemon and Co’s return to television, there’s a lot more at play behind the scenes with the 30 Rock reunion than you may anticipate. As Vulture notes, the show is something NBC’s sales department pitched in place of a more traditional up-front, and they’re worried the service will essentially take eyeballs from traditional network TV.
The apparent reason for the decision, per sources familiar with the matter: The station owners think the 30 Rock reunion, which was produced by the NBCUniversal ad-sales division as a replacement for the usual upfront presentation, is too much of a promotion for the company’s new Peacock streaming platform. Station owners are understandably worried about Peacock siphoning viewers from linear TV, particularly since the new platform will offer next-day reruns of NBC shows on its premium tier (and week-late access to reruns on its free level). Reps for station groups contacted by Vulture, including Gray and Sinclair, did not respond to requests for comment. An NBC rep confirmed the preemptions but declined further comment.
NBC, however, owns its own stations in big markets like New York and Los Angeles, so viewers there will have plenty of options to see 30 Rock this week. Despite it missing on some main NBC channels elsewhere, it won’t be hard to find. According to the network, the pre-recorded special will rebroadcast on USA, Bravo, E!, Oxygen, Syfy, and CNBC. It will also, of course, be available on Peacock the next day.