NBC raises white flag on Thursday
Peacock Network moves 'Studio 60' from Thursdays to Mondays to avoid head-to-head battle with 'CSI', 'Grey's Anatomy.'
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - NBC has blinked.
The Peacock Network announced Thursday that it will be moving its most eagerly awaited new show for the fall, "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip," from Thursday nights to Monday nights in order to avoid tough competition.
NBC is making a big bet on the show, which it hopes can spark a ratings turnaround at the struggling network.
Last year, NBC suffered a sizable decline in advertising sales during the so-called upfront negotiation period between marketers and broadcasters. And many media buyers are skeptical that NBC will be able to generate a notable increase in ad commitments for the upcoming season given its ratings woes.
NBC unveiled its fall lineup to advertisers last week and surprised some by placing "Studio 60," a drama developed by "West Wing" creator Aaron Sorkin that stars Matthew Perry of "Friends" fame, in the Thursday 9 p.m. ET time slot, directly against CBS' (Research) "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation."
"CSI" is the most popular scripted show on television, averaging about 25 million viewers, according to ratings tracker Nielsen Media Research.
But if going up against "CSI" wasn't enough of a challenge, Walt Disney (Research)-owned ABC made things even more daunting when it said it was moving its hit show "Grey's Anatomy" from Sundays to Thursdays at 9.
Shortly after that announcement, speculation immediately began swirling that NBC would have to move "Studio 60" if it wanted to have any hope of finding a sizable audience for the show. So it only took more than a week for NBC to react.
"We've enjoyed an extremely successful development season and are going to do what it takes to give each new series the strongest launch we can," said Kevin Reilly, president of NBC Entertainment.
"Now that we've assessed the competitive landscape, we've scheduled our new shows in time periods where we believe they'll succeed and will be supporting them with robust marketing campaigns and the full resources of the network," he said in a statement.
One media buyer said NBC had no choice but to do what it did but warned that "Studio 60" may still have an uphill battle to attract viewers.
"'Studio 60' will have more potential on Monday than it would on Thursday in a tough time period," said John Rash, senior vice president and director of broadcast negotiations with Campbell Mithun, a media buying firm in Minneapolis. "But the challenge on Monday is that there is some male appeal to the show and many males will be watching 'Monday Night Football' on ESPN."
To fill the new hole on Thursday, NBC decided to move an edition of its popular new game show "Deal or no Deal" from Friday to Thursday night at 9. In addition to moving "Studio 60", NBC also shifted the new drama "Kidnapped" from Tuesdays at 9 to Wednesdays at 10 and moved the starting time of the two new comedies "20 Good Years" and "30 Rock" up an hour on Wednesdays.
NBC clearly needs new hits since the General Electric (Research)-owned network finished the just-ended 2005-2006 season in fourth place among the 18-49 year-old age group most attractive to advertisers.
It was the second straight season that NBC finished fourth with this key demographic and many media buyers noted that this year was even more problematic since NBC was unable to capitalize on its airing of the Winter Olympics in February.
The network also changed the time slots for some of its existing shows, moving the original "Law and Order" to Fridays from Wednesdays and the L&O spin-off "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" to Tuesdays.
Finally, NBC announced that "Medium," which was set to return on Mondays at 10, will now be a mid-season replacement while "Crossing Jordan," originally planned to be a mid-season show, will come back in the fall instead on Fridays at 8.
CBS won the overall ratings crown this season.
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