NBC Concedes Quality, Goes for Live Events

The Wall Street Journal reports that NBC are going to focus on “live” and “event focused” broadcasts, which is reasonable since that’s pretty much all they have left!

Increasingly we’ve seen quality programming moving to Cable, or even direct delivery through Amazon, Netflix and Google. The Networks’ best bet at long term relevance is to focus on their unique opportunity to deliver big real time events, such as sports and shows that have audience “participation” where live is required.

NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt:

…outlined NBC’s plans to fight the dual threats of DVRs—which let users watch shows long after they air and skip ads—and the ever-expanding panoply of original pay-TV content that is luring viewers. He ran down next season’s shows, which will emphasize live events, edgy content and a return to the network’s roots in family comedies.


In September, NBC will air a two-week live quiz show event “The Million Second Quiz,” which will run around the clock and be featured nightly in prime time for 12 consecutive days.

“We need to be in the event business,” Mr. Greenblatt said. “Live is really important these days when you are trying to fight the DVR.”

Good luck with the fight against giving the audience the programming they want, when they want it!

Tip: If you need to get around the WSJ’s paywall, copy the headline, go to news.google.com and search for the headline. The link from there to the WSJ bypasses the paywall.

3 replies on “NBC Concedes Quality, Goes for Live Events”

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  1. It’s certainly inevitable, but there are downsides: funding “quality” production will become even more of a challenge, as the unwritten cross-subsidy between live sport and “news” (and everything else where ads can’t be skipped) dries up (i.e. less money for pilots)

    1. Surely it depends how you define quality. If it’s only about the image quality then perhaps you’re right. If you consider story quality first then the problem is not so bad. Stories are cheap to develop.

      Further, we don’t need 4k or 3D for storytelling, they’re for sensationalism; we are just told they’re needed by manufacturers. If you set out to make a film like Casablanca, Ice Cold in Alex or Brief Encounter you could shoot it on an iPhone and produce something of equal and possibly superior production quality to the original.

      If we are smart and use disruptive bits of technology wisely to make well formed and told stories then production actually gets cheaper. I’ll have three pocket cinema cameras for my studio thanks.

      If traditional media mindsets remain shackled to the printing press and transmitter then clearly things will continue to cost more. Dinosaurs are expensive to feed.

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