A report last August about NBC considering dropping the 10 PM hour and giving it back to its affiliate stations rattled the creative community with the prospect of losing several hours of prime real estate for drama programming. NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell in October acknowledged the discussions, stressing that no final decisions have been made.
A decision has now been made, at least when it comes to the next 2023-24 broadcast season. I hear Susan Rovner, Chairman, Entertainment Content, NBCUniversal Television and Streaming, relayed the message during recent agency presentations, stressing that the network will not be getting out of the 10 PM hour.
According to sources, the statement is true for the 2023-24 season while the company continues to evaluate its options. A potential 10 PM exit is considered a cost-cutting move amid declining linear viewing for entertainment programming, and Shell has indicated that NBCU intends to “reallocate resources” toward areas of the company that are growing. Asked in October if he expects other media giants to follow NBCU’s lead in possibly abdicating the 10 PM hour, Jordan Wertlieb, head of station owner Hearst Television, replied, “I expect they will and I hope they will.”
A potential NBC exit from the 10 PM hour would have a major impact on the network’s Dick Wolf procedural franchises which have built three-hour nightly lineups, One Chicago on Wednesday and Law & Order on Thursday. Both are doing well, including the 10 PM anchors.
In light of that success, it’s not surprising that NBC is on the hunt for more procedurals but I hear the network also is looking for new takes on the genre. I hear during the ongoing NBCU agency presentations, the executives played a trailer for the upcoming Found and touted the Nkechi Okoro Carroll drama as an example of the distinct, character-driven procedurals different from the Dick Wolf brand that NBC would be targeting.
I hear the network also is looking for successors to hit family drama This Is Us, which ended its run in May, and medical drama New Amsterdam, which is now in its final season.
On the comedy side, I hear NBC brass are happy with its new sitcom Lopez vs. Lopez, which recently received a full-season order, and bullish on the upcoming Mike O’Malley multi-camera comedy series starring Jon Cryer.
The network is in the market for more multi-cams and, while single-camera comedies do not make a lot of financial sense on broadcast, NBC is looking to maintain its comedy brand with The Office-like workplace comedies and is open to big swings in the arena in the vein of The Good Place. Coming up for the network are the returns of single-camera comedies American Auto and Grand Crew which both did solid business during their maiden seasons.
Across the rest of NBCU’s linear networks, I hear the company is on the lookout for more lower-cost co-productions for Syfy for as little as $500,000 an episode.