NBC has had talks with its affiliates about shrinking the network’s primetime footprint.
According to a Wall Street Journal report, the broadcaster has had early talks with its stations about turning the 10 p.m. ET hour back over to affiliates. Nothing is decided yet, as the matter hasn’t come up for formal discussion with its affiliate board.
Such a move would shrink NBC’s primetime footprint by seven hours per week during much of the year (it would likely not affect the network’s NFL franchise, Sunday Night Football, which regularly runs past 11 p.m. ET in the fall). It would also save the network money in a time when broadcast ratings have been steadily declining while media companies, including NBCUniversal and its parent, Comcast, go all in on streaming properties.
NBC’s 2022-23 schedule — including 10 p.m. programming — is locked in, so the earliest such a move could happen would be fall 2023. Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that while NBC hasn’t made any formal proposal to affiliates yet, major station groups would be happy to have the 10 o’clock hour to program themselves, which could be filled with local news programming or syndicated fare.
NBC didn’t comment directly on the report but gave THR the following statement, which it also provided to the Journal: “We are always looking at strategies to ensure that our broadcast business remains as strong as possible. As a company, our advantage lies in our ability to provide audiences with the content they love across broadcast, cable and streaming.”
More to come.