Ruffling a Few Feathers
- August 11
say that NBC has not had much success with competitive
reality this summer would probably be the king of all
understatements. After all, the network as a whole is
suffering an off-season the likes not seen since the
days of "Supertrain." Long-standing favorite "ER" is
showing its last legs. The "Law & Order" franchise,
while still strong, is oversaturated. The end of
"Friends" and "Seinfeld" can be seen as the death of the
sitcom as we know it. And "Will & Grace?" That's gone
after next year.
So what's a network in
peril to do? Throw a few reality series on the schedule
and see what sticks. The problem here... Not much is
sticking. Let's start with the latest example, the case
of "The Law Firm," which, after two shows, was recently
jettisoned to cable's badlands.
Last Thursday, NBC's
primetime lineup found itself in an unfamiliar place...
fourth (or, if you're like me, an adult aged 18-49,
fifth). "The Law Firm" was a big part of that failure,
as only 4 million pairs of eyes went to court (the rest
of you closet pre-verts missed a case involving a
dominatrix). That was down from 5.1 million the previous
week. Quite impressive if you happen to be on cable.
Quite embarrassing if you're a fourth-place network
trying desperately to dig yourself out of a quagmire
that was your regular season (just ask ABC, they're JUST
getting their footing back).
Let's hope that it does
fare better on Bravo, although I wouldn't hold out hope.
A Long Tradition...
This is just the latest
in a line of summer offerings from the peacock that have
failed to generate any spark. Last Tuesday, two summer
games, "Meet Mister Mom" and "I Want to Be a Hilton",
only combined with SVU to give NBC a 4.4/7 for the
night, down 35 percent from last year. "Mr. Mom" got
only 4.47 million viewers. "Hilton," which thankfully we
will never have to deal with again, only sampled about
3.85 million. Don's got the winner in the recap to
follow. Together, both shows took fourth.
And let's not forget
Average Joe, whose fourth series finisher (last
Wednesday) only got about 3 million hits. The only
modest hit that NBC had this summer was "Hit Me Baby 1
More Time", with 5 million viewers its final show.
It's gotten me worried
about what will happen when "Deal or No Deal" drops.
Sure as far as conventional game shows go, this will be
the only game in town in primetime when it does, but the
fact of the matter remains that no game show since ABC's
"Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" single-handedly saved a
network from certain doom.
But then again, no game
show, except maybe for Fox's "American Idol", was given
A way-out idea... get
the repurposing rights for GSN's Ballbreakers. Might
benefit both in the long run.
Addendum: A Good Sign
This coming from The
Futon Critic and Mediaweek: "The first live telecast of
"Ultimate Fight Night" drew 2.0 million viewers on
Saturday, where it topped all cable networks among
adults 18-49, adults 18-34, men 18-49 and men 18-34." (thefutoncritic.com)
Spike TV delivered more men 18-34 and men 18-49 than any
other cable telecast that day, with growth over the
year-ago time period of 400 percent in men 18-34, and
350 percent among men 18-49. (Mediaweek)
Given that "The Ultimate
Fighter 2" premieres in a matter of days, this is indeed
In Other Numbers
· It looks as Bravo is
having its own share of ratings trouble, as the search
for the next great sitcom only yielded an audience of
about 200,000 in its premiere. "Situation Comedy",
co-created by "Will & Grace's" Sean Hayes, is off to
· Save for "Big
Brother", which put CBS at its fourth-consecutive
Tuesday win last week, the Eye is no summer chicken
either. "The Cut" moved to Wednesdays after poor ratings
on Thursday. Then it moved to Friday after poor ratings
on Wednesday. Seems like that show can't win, and the
final Friday numbers drive that fact home. In its new
"mostly harmless" home, the show scored 3.07 million
viewers and a 1.0/4 in A18-49. Lest we forget "Rock
Star: INXS." Mark Burnett's summer turkey, now split
between two networks. The most watched episode this
week: the performance, with 5.86 million viewers. The
least: the results show, 4.37 million. We think CBS is
hoping that this move will foster steadiness in the show
and keep it from doing any damage.
· RU Watching? The
answer, apparently, is "maybe". Actually, if you're one
of the 2.5 million viewers who watched "RU The Girl with
T-Boz & Chilli" last week, the answer is yes. The show
started with a 1.7/3 in its premiere.
The Numbers Game and
State of Play will be taking a couple of weeks off, due
to Game Show Congress 4. We'll see you with a new column
on August 25. Until then, remember, the numbers never
hasn't been to California in 17 years and is really
looking forward to it. E-mail him best wishes at firstname.lastname@example.org.