NBC flirts with scrapping its 10 p.m. primetime drama slot

Law & Order: Organized Crime, one of the shows currently airing at 10 p.m. on NBC primetime

Law & Order: Organized Crime, one of the shows currently airing at 10 p.m. on NBC
Photo: Will Hart/NBC

“Primetime” has become a rather nebulous concept for viewers over the past few years, as the rise of streaming, video-on-demand, TiYouWhat do you have, has largely freed humanity from the tyranny of television networks that dictate when youa source of income human being with something resembling autonomyshould be somewhere to get your last doses of Rightthe sand Orders, sitcoms, etc.

Now NBC is apparently considering doing this idea of ​​prime time still nebulous, with Variety reports that the network is considering reducing the hour of programming it airs from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. on weeknights, ceding the territory to its local affiliates. (Coming soon: the local at 11 a.m. news, except all presenters speak three times slower to fill the space!)

And while we can joke about the dwindling number of people who actually watch primetime TV in 2022, this hypothetical move (which, to be clear, wouldn’t take effect until fall 2023, at the earliest) is the one who could have pretty huge effects on NBC’s programming and the creators who make it. It is, after all, five hours of television a week that would not be made that we are talking about – just watching NBC’s upcoming 2022 schedule would mean there would be no more room for Chicago PD, New Amsterdam, Law and order: organized crimeand of course, the quantum leap to restartthe show that dares to ask: how long can you wait to drop an “oh boy” in a script before fans of the original series fully and openly revolted?

Just by raising the issue of removing the 10 p.m. drama slotNBC has already resurrected the specter of one of its greatest boneheadism programming periods in recent memory, that is, that time it tried to appease the ratings in denim. demigod Jay Leno giving him an hour-long late-night talk show in this time slot after Conan O’Brien took over The show tonight. Turns out people who are used to watching crime-intensive dramas in a particular timeslot aren’t tuning in to hear Leno musing over funny titles; plummeting odds The Jay Leno Show also royally pissed off affiliates, who complained that their new intro was killing local news ratings. (And then when NBC tried to correct the course Again by moving Leno to 11:30, thus knocking The show tonight being the Very early show tomorrow morningO’Brien himself rioted – but at this point we’re just getting into the meat of a bill carter book.)

The thing is, screwing up the last prime time can have a lot of heavy effects on a network, and especially its relationship with its affiliates. The 11 p.m. news is a sacrosanct ratings driver for local stations and networks, even in the age of streaming.; anything that upsets it will ruffle some feathers somewhere.

Interestingly, NBC said it’s not approaching a potential 10 p.m. cut from a budget standpoint, suggesting that at least some of the shows that would be orphaned by such a move might just move elsewhere, with the most likely destination being network-affiliated streaming service Peacock. Variety cites sources saying the possible move is more about what “could be done to make best use of the broadcast brand and affiliate relationship over its streaming and cable options. (The idea, as best we can parse it, is that NBC might get the most out of a show if it works on streaming or on one of parent Comcast’s cable companies instead. that letting him wade into a more’prestigious“, but a lower-rated prime time slot that affiliates might be able to make better use of)

And, again, the biggest question here is how affiliates will respond to all this, especially since the Variety piece suggests that NBC probably won’t will increase its late-night talk shows to fill the new void. Probably the most likely pattern to consider is how Fox and The CW affiliates, neither have never interested in programming the 10 p.m. slot— manage the extra time, usually by extending their news coverage and grabbing syndicated shows to fill the space.

Again: this is all still just speculative, although speculation is occurring at enough intensity to be picked up in the trades. NBC made a simple (but noncommittal) statement) statement on the conversations, saying that, “Although NBC is the number one network, we are always looking for strategies to ensure that our broadcast business remains as strong as possible, As a business, our advantage lies in our ability to provide audiences with the content they love across broadcast, cable and streaming. They declined further comment.