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NBC Flips Apprentice: Martha, E-Ring - Broadcasting & Cable

NBC Flips Apprentice: Martha, E-Ring

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In an attempt to boost the flagging fortunes of two new shows, NBC has flipped the Wednesday time slots for The Apprentice: Martha Stewart and E-Ring for the immediate future, beginning this Wednesday, Oct. 5.

The move is a strategy NBC hopes will help resuscitate both new shows, neither of which are off to strong starts.

The Apprentice: Martha Stewart had been airing Wednesdays from 8-9 p.m. E-Ring ran 9-10 p.m.

NBC found that much of its Martha audience was being poached by UPN's America's Top Model, and is hoping E-Ring's 9 p.m. slot, which has no other reality competition, will help rescue the second member of the Apprentice franchise.

Likewise, the network is hoping that by moving E-Ring out of the drama-heavy 9 p.m. hour - and away from behemoth Lost - it can give the Pentagon drama a chance to bounce back.

E-Ring—one of NBC’s most heavily promoted fall shows—is fading in a 9 p.m. slot loaded with dramas, including Lost.Apprentice: Martha Stewart also disappointed, finishing in a tie with UPN’s America’s Next Top Model in 18-49s both this week and last.

For each of its first two episodes, Apprentice: Martha Stewart scored a 2.3/7 in the demo, according to Nielsen national ratings data. E-Ring notched a 2.1 on Wednesday, down from a 2.5/7 during its Sept. 21 premiere.
Trading time slots could be deft counterprogramming. Apprentice: Martha Stewart could be a reality oasis for viewers. On the other hand, the show would be thrown into the jaws of Lost.

"I like the idea of swapping out Martha with E-Ring," says Shari Ann Brill, director of media for media buyer Carat. In a similar counterprogramming strategy, she believes UPN could swap its 8 p.m. ET hit Top Model with 9 p.m. drama Veronica Mars. "The only way to make some type of inroads," she says, "is to offer some sort of alternative on the schedule."

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