What NBC Can Learn from This Season (So Far)

NBC’s been in dire straits for a while now and this season was largely seen as the season they start getting themselves back on track.

But unfortunately for them, after a couple of weeks into the new season, the network is still hovering in 4th with very few (if any) bright spots to hang their hats on.

While there have been some positive moves behind the scenes (bye bye Jeff Zucker! – As soon as the FCC approves the Comcast-NBCU merger), the network still needs to find solid footing in primetime.

NBC does have some positives to think about though.

One of the hardest things come Fall is networks having to figure out how to get eyeballs to their new shows. Networks bank of people sampling shows with the hopes that they’ll stick around. Some networks’ new offerings were just completely rejected by viewers even before they started (*cough*ABC*cough*).

But NBC’s new shows, save for Undercovers and the DOA Outlaw, all got off to very positive starts. The Event more than doubled the numbers in its timeslot and in turn helped Chase after it, Outsourced had a strong opening on Thursdays, and Law & Order: Los Angeles topped SVU and showed maybe canceling original flavor was a good decision.

Since then though, things haven’t been as happy. The Event has bled viewers week after week (hurting Chase even more), LOLA tumbled in week 2, and Outsourced is leveling off at 30 Rock numbers (which aren’t good).

While the shows haven’t been able to keep people tuned in, NBC should take comfort in the fact that people were interested enough to tune in and check it out during premiere week. At the very least, their advertising worked (especially for The Event).

When networks like ABC and Fox, who have top 10 shows every week, can’t even get viewers to give a new show a try, NBC won that minor battle by being able to do that.

That should keep NBC from doing something drastic like pouring resources into cheap reality programs or a Leno Show-sized debacle. For the network to pick itself up, they have to continue to develop high quality shows but also try and find mainstream hits.

There is no reason a show can’t be both excellent and mainstream.

NBC has ordered full seasons of The Event, Chase, Outsourced, and LOLA despite so-so numbers, leaving shows on the midseason bench like The Cape and Harry’s Law still waiting in the wings. It makes you wonder what NBC is thinking going forward.

Hope is not lost yet with NBC. As long as they stay the course and not give up, the positive starts last month should show the network that people will give them a chance as long as they give good television.

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