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NBC's New, Pared-Down Primetime

Now that NBC has filled in the holes in its primetime schedule, which it did today with its upfront presentation to advertisers, it's easy to see what a simplified world the network is now living in -- with five of its weekly programming hours now accounted for with the 10 p.m. hour-long "The Jay Leno Show," every weeknight. It's even managed to squeeze two reruns into the primetime schedule, getting rid of another two hours of that nasty airtime and the production costs associated with filling that time with new programming.

The schedule, which you can see in its puny entirety over at Mediaweek, basically shapes up like this: "Biggest Loser," "Leno", "Leno," "Law and Order," "Leno", "Monday Night Football." But here's a more accurate breakdown of what little the network had to do to fill those 22 programming hours this fall (some series, such as "30 Rock" will come into the schedule later):

  • Five hours--"The Jay Leno Show."
  • Four hours--NFL Football, one hour on Sunday night of pre-game show, the rest devoted to the game.
  • Three hours--Various "Law and Order"'s, the Saturday night one being a repeat.
  • Two hours--"The Biggest Loser." (This will shrink to 90 minutes later in the season.)
  • Two hours--The new drama "Trauma" including the one-hour repeat on Saturday night before the "Law and Order" repeat.
  • One hour each--"Heroes," "Southland," "Dateline" and the new series "Parenthood."
  • 30 minutes each--The Thursday night comedy block of "SNL Weekend Thursday Update," "Parks and Recreation," "The Office," and the new sitcom "Community."
So, NBC had to think up a grand total of 2.5 hours of brand new programming out of 22 hours, unless you count the Leno show, which is about like saying the "SNL Weekend Thursday Update," which has been around for decades in a different form, is also a brand new idea. NBC seems to still be positioning this as a busy season on the programming front. Ben Silverman, co-chairman, NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios said:
NBC has picked up more scripted shows than last season even with "The Jay Leno Show" at 10 p.m. We're incredibly excited about our new and returning series and have more comedy programming than anyone else, as well as two of the most buzzed about new shows, "Community" and "Parenthood."
Believe it or not, I'm not saying that this slimmed-down schedule is necessarily a bad thing. But when you see the whole schedule laid out before you, and you think back to the days when NBC was the dominant broadcast network, it's clear that whatever NBC was, it isn't that anymore.
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