NBC: Getting Smarter

When faced with the world of 21st Century Television, different networks do different things to bring audiences to their shows. In the past couple of weeks we’ve learned that FOX will continue to ruin the baseball playoffs; ABC wants to disable the fast-forward button on DVRs and CBS is going to advertise on food.

Lame lame lame. (Actually, I recognize that the FOX/MLB partnership is shrewd from the marketing standpoint; it’s just that I’m a lifelong baseball fan who recoils in horror at being faced with Tim McCarver, those dopey “Sounds of the Game” and sitcom stars in box seats every goddamn October until 2053 or whenever it is.)

So just when you’d figure that NBC would also come up with some kind of dumbass stunt or idea of their own, they actually go in the complete opposite direction and do something very very smart.

And simple. Basically, they are going to take several of their new fall shows and rebroadcast them on their sister cable networks, like USA, Bravo and Sci-Fi. That’s all. But that’s everything: maximize your audience by going out and finding it, not sitting there and waiting for it to find you. I just doubt that audiences are going to flock to shows because they’re eating legumes laser-etched with a “funny” slogans like Don’t sit there like a vegetable, watch CBS.

The only bad thing I can say about NBC’s plan is that it doesn’t go far enough: it looks like the sister networks are only going to widespread the premiere episodes of these shows, not the full seasons. What does go far enough is that they are also going to create websites with video and written recaps of every episode of these shows. What NBC seems to be saying is that your only excuse to not watch one of their shows is because you think it sucks.

Which, of course, they very well might, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.

On top of the recent deals with YouTube & NetFlix; The Office Webisodes; and the picking up of Nobody’s Watching, it shows that, of all of the broadcast networks, NBC is making serious attempt to adapt to how people watch TV in the here and now (and maybe even the here and later) instead of figuring out ways of turning back the clock a half-century.

Tis good on paper, we’ll have to see how this all plays out as the season unfolds.

Now, if we can just get same-night, first-run episodes of season three of Battlestar Galactica on their HD NBCU channel . . .

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