Friday, October 20, 2006

NBC restructures

NBC Universal on Thursday outlined a sweeping restructuring plan that will cut 700 jobs throughout the company and save $750 million annually in an effort to remake the company in the digital world.

NBCU 2.0 is an effort to not only respond to NBC Uni's changing fortunes after its fall from longtime dominance on broadcast TV but also to successfully navigate the shifting media landscape in a company that executives said was built on an old business model.

Plans include moving most high-cost scripted NBC dramas and sitcoms away from 8 p.m
More from Paul J. Gough and Nellie Andreeva in The Hollywood Reporter, including the depressing news that scripted drama and comedy will be reduced in favour of cheaper reality shows.

Over on Media Guardian (free registration required), Jason Deans wonders if the announcement signals the beginning of the end for American network TV.
Network audiences have been shrinking for 20 years or so, as the growth of cable TV channels such as HBO, Showtime and Discovery ate into their ratings. But even with annual audience shares for each of the main channels falling to around 10% in the last few years, network TV remained a profitable business.

Now, with the growth of broadband and digital rivals such as Google, Yahoo! and YouTube, it seems a tipping point has been reached.

This will have repercussions in the UK - for one thing, if the supply of US drama and comedy begins to dry up.

And for ITV. If NBC, for years the most successful player globally in the ad-funded network TV business, cannot make the sums add up anymore, how long before ITV's owners follow its lead and cut back on news and entertainment programming investment?
Meanwhile, spare a thought for comedy writer and blogger Ken Levine who will today be trying to pitch a new show to NBC.
Putting my own little needs aside, eliminating 8:00 comedies seems to me like a really short sided idea. Remember the last time NBC was in last place? What show completely saved their ass? Hint: it wasn’t THE WEAKEST LINK. COSBY in the 80’s and more recently FRIENDS became the saviors of the network.

In this new “reorganization” I question whether NBC will even need a comedy department. Perhaps those duties could just be added to the Facility Manager’s responsibilities.

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