Twelve Reasons Why NBC Is a Last-Place Network

02.01.12 6 years ago 57 Comments

Courtesy of Burnsy

In 1976, NBC unveiled a new logo to replace their ubiquitous peacock. It was fancy-looking N made up of two trapezoids, and it cost more than $600,000 to develop. Thing is, a Nebraska PBS affiliate already had a similar-looking logo — which only cost $100 to design. To avoid a lawsuit, NBC paid a $1 million package to the Nebraska station, along with another $55,000 to, according to Mental Floss, “pay for the costs related to not only the legal battle, but the development and implementation of a new logo.”

Moral of the story: NBC has been a screw-up for years; it’s only become particularly noticeable in the network’s awkward post-“Seinfeld”/”Friends”/”E.R”-era. And that sucks, because they’ve aired some of the best TV shows of all-time. That’s why they’re so easy to pick on: we tease because we love. Here are 12 reasons why NBC is in last place amongst the Big Four, with some helpful advice, too.

NBC would also like me to remind you to WATCH “SMASH,” THE MONDAY AFTER THE SUPER BOWL, in case you haven’t seen the ads for the show every three seconds for the last two months.

Here’s a list that NBC totally owns: PRODUCT PLACEMENT. Of the 10 shows with the highest number of free ads in 2011, four of them were on NBC. The network should just cancel all of their Thursday night series, and replace them a three-hour block of the hot girl from the T-Mobile ad telling us about 4G speeds.

Dane Cook and Whitney Cummings might both have shows on NBC next season. Let that sink in. The network that has produced four of the greatest shows of the past 20 years — “Seinfeld,” “Friday Night Lights,” “Community,” and “Freaks and Geeks” — is now asking Whitney Cummings and the guy who recently said that he “chainsaw-f*cked” a “disgusting whore’s c*nt” to save them.

“The Firm” doesn’t cost anything to make, but it’s a perfect example of why NBC has occasionally fallen behind Univision, ratings-wise: it’s a boring-looking drama about lawyers with no stars, based on a movie that came out 19 years ago, based on a book that came out 21 years ago. Its series premiere was watched by 46% fewer people than last season’s big midseason bust, “The Cape.” At least it’s already got the movie part covered.

Yes, “The Office,” the network’s only show in the Nielsen top-30 this season, is the obvious exception here, but let’s not forget “Coupling,” “Free Agents,” “Kath & Kim,” “Prime Suspect,” and “Teachers.” Scratch that: FORGET ALL OF THOSE. Collectively, the five series ran for a total of 44 episodes, and none made it to a second season. Listen to your Green is Universal initiative, NBC, and go local.

STOP THE PRESSES. NBC has a hit with “Grimm” — by their low ratings standards, at least — even though they’re doing their best to fu*k things up. First, “Grimm” was scheduled on Friday, a day where TV shows go to have a quiet death, proving NBC can’t realize a good thing even when it’s on their network. Then when the ratings started coming, the show took a month-long break. Then three more episodes aired, then another lengthy break, then two more, than another week off. Reschedule your otherwise woeful schedule to let a string of episodes of a show people actually want to watch air in a row. Otherwise, they’re going back to the ‘stache.

ABC had “Who Wants to Be Millionaire,” the number-one show for the 1999-2000 season. CBS has “Survivor,” which didn’t finish out of the top-10 until season nine, and “The Amazing Race,” the winner of eight Emmy Awards for Outstanding Reality Program. Fox has “American Idol,” the highest-rated show for eight straight seasons. NBC has “Fear Factor,” a show that people only talk about when they’re discussing “donkey semen”; “The Biggest Loser,” which has never finished higher than #30; and “The Apprentice,” which hasn’t been relevant since 2005. The Peacock finally found a hit last season with “The Voice,” but it was a decade too late.

And “Emeril” and “quarterlife” and “Joey” and “The Paul Reiser Show” and “The Playboy Club” and so many more.

Who’d a-thunk “Father of the Pride” wasn’t going to be a HUGE hit? Not this bespectacled, talking penis. Search “Zucker” on Urban Dictionary and here’s what you get:

Synonymous with fu*ker because Jeff Zucker at NBC is the dumbest motherfu*ker in television.

a really dumb fu*kin move. Like somene sh*t themselves.

For a person or persons of authority to take away something which was rightfully earned by another party. From Jeff Zucker of NBC concerning late night television.

He is not liked.

In the early 2000s, after losing the rights to air MLB and NBA games, NBC was feeling experimental, and just like a couple who thinks they’ll be fine doing It without a condom just this once, only to drop out of school nine months later, they later regretted their decision. XFL, founded by WWF owner Vince McMahon, had some good ideas (trash-talking announcers, no PAT kicks, etc.), but suffered from a poor launch-date (right after the Super Bowl, when most fans need a break from football) and lack of high-profile names (hey, Tommy Maddox!). The XFL didn’t work because of the same reason Arena Football, which NBC also aired from 2003-2006, never caught on nationally: THE NFL AND COLLEGE FOOTBALL ALREADY EXIST. Why bother with an inferior product when you can wait a few months for the good stuff to return?

The ratings weren’t great, but they were roughly on-par with other NBC shows, like “Whitney,” that weren’t put on hiatus until an undetermined time. Plus, and Warming Glow is the perfect example of this, the fans of “Community” are, well, fanatical. There’s no other show, sitcom or drama, that has the same rabid fan base as “Community,” and NBC did more harm than good by yanking it off the schedule.

The only reason late-night TV still exists is because of routine. When you actually break an episode of “Letterman” or “Fallon” down, you realize it’s annoyingly formulaic (“This is in the news…”) and mostly just excuse for celebrities to hawk their goods for free; that’s why the Internet and viral videos specifically are the best thing to happen to the format…for us, at least. When NBC did the unthinkable and moved “Leno” to 10 p.m., changing the show’s name to “The Jay Leno Show,” they pissed off old “Leno” fans, who didn’t want their routine interrupted. And then, when the ratings plummeted, they moved Leno back to a later timeslot, bumping Conan to 12:05 a.m., which pissed off young “Conan” fans, who then took to the Internet and the streets to loudly protest.

Elsewhere, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert cackled maniacally.

And NBC had a public relations nightmare that they’re still trying to smooth over.

A friend of mine, Oriana, wrote a blog post recently about what she would do if she ran NBC. My favorite part:

Accept that you’re basically a cable network.

The very type of shows you’re best known for, the shows we use to define your network, appeal to a demographic that no longer watches TV on Nielsen-approved devices. Advertisers are apparently as dumb as we’ve always thought, and are still content to use Nielsen numbers. What they don’t understand is how valuable it can be to know you’re reaching a very specific group of people. That’s what you have to do: Make advertisers understand the value of a smaller, far more focused audience.

This is, of course, no easy task, but if NBC can find a way to prove to advertisers that the millions of articles about “Parks and Recreation” online actually mean something, they could herald in a new era, an era in which the Nielsens don’t matter. You’d be hailed as kings! They just need to think differently, like they did with “Friday Night Lights” airing on DirecTV. Ratings don’t mean as much as they did even 10 years ago, and NBC could be the network that leads the march towards…whatever’s next. It’s a chance for them to be in first place again.

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