NBC Seeks Footing Without 'Friends'

David Bauder of AP has an interesting article up concerning NBC’s recent fall from grace. It reads:

Minus “Friends” or any big breakout hits, NBC has stumbled out of the starting gate this TV season.

The once proud peacock lost again last week in the only ratings battle it cares about, among the 18-to-49-year-old demographic that advertisers seek, Nielsen Media Research said Tuesday.

That makes four losses in four weeks of the new TV season. It’s an unaccustomed spot for NBC, which dominated this demo for the last four seasons, and eight out of the last nine, and has taken in the most advertising revenue as a result.

It’s still early, but NBC ranks third this fall behind CBS and a resurgent ABC among all viewers and among the youthful demographic.

“They’ve lost some of their core properties and now they have to struggle the way everyone has to struggle when they lose their core properties,” said Stacey Lynn Koerner, a television analyst for Initiative Media. The last episodes of “Friends” and “Frasier” aired in May.

Matt LeBlanc’s new “Joey” is the classic good news-bad news case for NBC.

With its 13.4 million viewers last week, it was television’s third most popular sitcom behind “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “Two and a Half Men.” It’s the top-rated new sitcom.

Yet the “Joey” ratings are 34 percent off what “Friends” was doing at the same point last year. Combine that with a 14 percent drop for “The Apprentice” and longtime hit “ER” now losing its time slot to CBS’s “Without a Trace,” and you’ve got some problems on Thursday, traditionally television’s most profitable night.

Other networks’ hits have also taken their toll on NBC. The network shelved its new drama “Hawaii” after it tanked in the same time slot as ABC’s hit “Lost.” NBC is moving another new show, “LAX,” into that slot.

Meanwhile, “Law & Order” is down 21 percent in the ratings now that it is competing against CBS’s “CSI: NY.” ABC’s “Desperate Housewives,” the season’s biggest freshman hit with 20.9 million viewers Sunday, has caused the ratings to fade for NBC’s “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.”

NBC is down 8 percent from last year among all viewers, and 10 percent among viewers aged 18 to 49, while ABC and CBS is up in both categories, Nielsen Media Research said.

“I can’t tell you we’re clicking our heels up,” said NBC Entertainment President Kevin Reilly. “This is tough, and it has gotten tougher with ABC’s performance. We’re not shocked by our own performance and we’ve got a job to do to get back up.”

NBC is “not doing any worse than we expected them to be,” said Steve Sternberg, television analyst for ad buyers Magna Global. “We expected them to be down. The surprise is how well ABC is doing.”

The entire article can be read here.