Struggling fourth-place network NBC has made a bold, perhaps even reckless decision regarding the upcoming fall TV schedule. The network is going to try to make money by programming shows that people might actually want to watch, rather than just filling its existing low-rated shows with more product placement. What a novel idea!
Once upon a time, back in the days of ‘Cheers’ and ‘Seinfeld’, NBC used to be a ratings powerhouse that other networks feared. Those days are long past. Today’s NBC has been stuck in the fourth-place position behind CBS, Fox, and ABC for several years and is still in active decline. Rather than invest in developing quality programming that might draw new viewers, the former penny-pinching corporate owners at General Electric forced the network to instead focus its energies on striking product placement deals with advertisers in a desperate bid to scrape together some revenue.
Over time, this product placement has become more and more overt. It’s no longer enough to photograph a character typing on an Apple laptop with its logo positioned prominently in the frame. Nowadays, the show’s dialogue will be written to have characters extol the virtues of these products, from Subway’s delicious yet healthy Chicken Teriyaki foot-long sandwiches to the helpful navigation system in a character’s new Ford Explorer. This might be done with a wink and nudge in comedies like ‘Chuck’ or ’30 Rock’, but the serious dramas aren’t immune from it either.
Well, new entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt has apparently decided to put an end to this practice by declaring a “content before commerce” strategy for the upcoming season. The new corporate owners at Comcast will be pumping $200 million dollars into the network’s programming, hoping to lure back some of those lost viewers with the promises of exciting new scripted dramas, and less reliance on cheap Reality shows and product placement.
That’s the plan, anyway. Of course, it still remains to be seen whether anyone at the network even knows what quality programming is anymore. The promos for some of the new hopeful-hits don’t look especially exciting to me.
Here’s one for the bland musical drama ‘Smash’:
The supernatural thriller ‘Grimm’ just looks downright dreadful, like this year’s version of ‘The Cape’.
And I supposed that the sexed-up ‘Mad Men’ clone ‘The Playboy Club’ must have received a special exemption from the “less product placement” rule. The whole show seems to be one big ad for Hugh Hefner’s gentlemen’s entertainment empire.
I suppose we’ll see how well this all shakes out when the shows premiere in the fall.
[Source: New York Post]