Jeff Zucker, who is never wrong about anything (after all, he greenlit such blockbuster hits as Good Morning Miami), says that NBC is looking at “all options” including possibly scaling back the number of hours it broadcasts. This is a
“Can we continue to broadcast 22 hours in primetime? Three of our competitors don’t,” Zucker said during Monday’s keynote at the annual UBS Global Media and Communications Conference. “Can we continue to broadcast seven days a week? One of our competitors doesn’t.”
He asked whether Friday and Saturday should be programmed the same way as it has been in the past. Most of the other networks don’t program originals on Saturday night anymore, with the exception of CBS’ “48 Hours Mystery” and NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” after 11:30 p.m.
“All of those questions are on the table and are actively looking at all these options,” Zucker said.
Actually, Zucker has been saying virtually the same thing for a long time, expressing envy of Fox’s no-TV-after-10 schedule. He used to say that reality programming was the solution: since the networks can’t afford to do 22 hours of expensive programming a week, they need to save money by using some of those hours for cheap reality shows. But now most reality shows aren’t doing well enough to justify even their modest cost, so we’re hearing more talk about just cutting down the prime-time schedule.
After the fiasco of the CW’s attempt to license out Sunday night programming to another, even worse company, I’m doubtful that any network will actually risk giving a night over to someone else, even a really weak night like Friday or Saturday. But we should expect to at least hear other network programmers at least speculating about the idea.