Any thoughts about this? It would radically change how Americans look forward to new content in September...
It soon may be time to retire the phrase “fall television season.”
NBC Universal took a big step toward undoing one of the television industry’s oldest traditions by announcing Tuesday that it would move to a year-round schedule of staggered program introductions. The move is intended to appeal to advertisers, who crave fresh content to keep viewers tuned in.
And if it succeeds — and leads other broadcast networks to shift from their focus on a mass introduction of new shows — it could alter an American cultural cycle that extends all the way back to the days of radio, when families gathered around the Philco every September, as the school year began, to sample the new entertainment choices.
NBC plans to announce a 52-week schedule in April, a month before ABC and CBS will unveil their fall lineups at splashy presentations known as upfronts. The decision means that NBC will be committing to a new lineup of shows earlier than any of its competitors, while also inviting advertisers to build marketing plans around specific shows and perhaps to integrate brands and products into the plots of the shows themselves.
“We absolutely think this is going to change the industry,” said Michael Pilot, the head of sales for NBC. That was one of the goals cited by Jeff Zucker, the president and chief executive of NBC Universal, in comments he has made recently about how the strike by Hollywood writers could create opportunities to change some of the ways networks do business.
The fall television season has been under assault on many fronts, from the many cable channels that introduce new shows whenever they find it convenient, to individual series like ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” that made their debuts in odd months like March.
Viewers have already become accustomed to a spring lineup from Fox, for instance, and for fresh slates of reality shows during the summer.
But the move by NBC Universal, a property of General Electric and Vivendi, represents a particularly bold stroke by a network with the size and clout to move markets. After it announces a list of programs in April, NBC plans to meet with big advertising clients in several cities, followed by a different sort of presentation in May that will encompass all the NBC Universal properties, including cable channels like Bravo, USA and CNBC.
What that event will not include is a special introduction of the fall prime-time schedule, which NBC has held for years in Radio City Music Hall and as its broadcast network competitors still intend to do this year. NBC is looking for a different site for the presentation because the Music Hall is not appropriate for the plans it has for that day.
But the day will include an introduction of the yearlong programming plans for the press as well as a party for advertising clients that will include some NBC stars. “We still want to keep some of that sizzle,” Mr. Pilot said. Marc Graboff, the co-chairman of NBC Entertainment, said, “This is all about creating a two-way conversation with advertisers.”
Senior executives at media agencies greeted the NBC decision with mild to enthusiastic praise. “It’s a step in the right direction,” said Aaron Cohen, executive vice president at Horizon Media in New York. “Something like this was bound to happen.”
“I applaud it,” said Charlie Rutman, chief executive for North American operations at MPG in New York, a media agency owned by Havas, because “the idea of a constant stream of new programming is good.”
Shari Anne Brill, senior vice president and director for programming at another New York media agency, Carat, described the NBC plan as “a smart idea,” likening it to steps that Fox Broadcasting has tried in the past, announcing several schedules for a season, with new shows coming on the air in September, November and January and in the spring.