NBC–and Jeff Zucker in particular–are certainly no strangers to being savaged in the media. But a big story in New York Magazine, “Will Somebody Please Save NBC?”, is one of the more brutal looks at the Peacock network’s current plight, and how it got there.
Mark Harris writes:
When you step back for a broader view, things get even worse; they devolve from “What’s wrong with this network?” to “Why own a network at all?” Because this isn’t just about the new sitcom with Chevy Chase and the guy from The Soup pulling in only 5 million viewers, or Trauma failing to become the next ER. This is about a company that has lately seemed to hold in contempt the very idea of a broadcast network, and that has become a symbol of the death of ambition in an industry that, in its glory days, attempted to program for both mass and class. Without that goal, a network is nothing but a basic-cable channel with a gloomier business plan and an uglier balance sheet.
On Ben Silverman’s tenure: “[He] accomplished little more than securing a guest shot on Entourage and serving as a chew toy for entertainment-industry blogzilla Nikki Finke.”
On the Sci Fi Channel rebrand: “One can legitimately ask why Zucker paid some genius more than twelve cents to rebrand the Sci Fi Channel with a stupid misspelling.”
On Leno: “With its wee audience-around 5 million people per night-Leno has robbed the network of viewers that could be watching promos for its following evening’s lineup, which means that, except when it airs football or The Biggest Loser, NBC tends to start each evening’s prime-time schedule with an already diminished audience. Handing 10 p.m. to Leno has also hurt ratings-severely in some cities-for the late-night newscasts of NBC’s affiliates.”
And I found it peculiar that, for a long story that’s seemingly thoroughly reported, Harris does not quote a single source. I don’t think I could ever get away with that here at B&C.