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5 Suggestions To Make New NBC Better Than The Old NBC

Now that the merger between NBC Universal and Kabletown – sorry, I mean, Comcast – has been approved by the FCC and introductory memos have been sent out to all staff members to make it official, it’s time for the peacock network to start living up to its new motto and make history (again). Here’re five thoughts how they can do that.

For those who don’t work at NBC Universal, today saw Comcast boss and new NBC CEO Steve Burke announce that NBC has to be “in it to win it” and, most interestingly, mean more than just ratings (He told an audience that “We are in business for profit of course and ratings… but we can and we will stand for so much more than that”). Which is exactly the kind of rousing rhetoric that you’d expect from a new Man In Charge, but wouldn’t it be nice if he actually meant it? NBC, which has long been in trouble in terms of ratings and, let’s be honest, content, has a lot of work ahead of it in order to regain popular favor… but these are some steps I’d like to see it take to start.

Look To Other Networks (1)
Where’s the gap in the market? What audience isn’t being well served by your competition? The CW and Fox are, in their own ways, skewing younger and glossy – as well as heavily genre-bound – while CBS and ABC rock the procedural, older vote. I’m unsure what NBC means as a network these days, and I’m not alone (Chuck? Law & Order? The Biggest Loser? Do these shows have anything in common, demographic-wise?); maybe working that out, even by process of differentiating the network from the competition, would be a good place to begin.

Ratings Be Damned/The Good Will Out
It’d be great if Burke meant what he said about some things being more important than ratings. Like, for example, quality. Wouldn’t it be great if shows like Kings weren’t dropped so quickly because the audience wasn’t there yet? Or, to use a more current example, something like Parenthood isn’t in danger of losing its timeslot (or being canceled) because not enough people have seen it yet? NBC used to be known for its quality drama output, but that’s really dropped off in recent years, replaced by reality shows to chase cheaper, more populist quick hits. Maybe it’s time to return to the traditional values. Which, indirectly, leads me to…

Look To Comedy
You know what NBC (still) does really well? Comedy. 30Rock, Community, Parks & Recreation, The Office, are all great shows, and more importantly, all shows that were given the space and time to grow an audience and work out all their personalities and quirks. For some reason, it seems that that non-comedy fictional shows aren’t given the same treatment, and instead encouraged to be as homogeneous and familiar as possible (as anyone who saw Chase, Outlaw or Undercovers this year could tell you). New shows should be indulged and encouraged to have their own voices, so that they exist for more reason than just filling up an hour of airtime or keeping franchises alive; that’s the only way breakout hits come about.

Look To Other Networks (2)
Hey, NBC is the head of a corporate TV family that also includes USA, Syfy and Bravo. Why not take the best of those channels’ shows and put them on mainstream primetime to see how they do? Just a suggestion, brought to you by the board of “Wouldn’t White Collar, Top Chef and Being Human give NBC a nice boost in program quality?”

Oh, And Also…
…Start watching 30Rock. When they make jokes about NBC’s output? They’re funny because they’re true. Those’re the things you should think about fixing first. Make it harder to make fun of you.


  • Randy Watson

    30Rock hasn’t been funny since the first season and Office is a tired husk of its former self.

    I wouldn’t care if NBC just went away entirely at this point. They’ve made their choice of ratings over quality and there are plenty other channels out there to enjoy.

  • Jonah Weiland

    You know my suggestions – get rid of the new Facebook, err, NBCUniversal logo.

    And how exactly do you say NBCUniversal now that it’s all one word?

  • Lance1966us

    I didn’t think Chase was “homogeneous and familiar”. But maybe I don’t watch as much tv as others do (anymore).

  • Tonyscc

    I left MSNBC when they dumped Imus, I’ll stay with FOX

  • Jacob

    Step one: Give Chuck a fifth season.

    Then the rest of what you said.

  • Jacob

    The same way you said “NBC” only with a “Universal” afterward. There isn’t any comedy to really be had from the new logo.

  • Toneloak

    I think ABC and NBCUniversal are just too similar. I mean Fox is know for steping out of the box and CBS is kind of old school and easy the CWs are kind of young and hip. While ABC is 30-something TV and NBCUniversal is going for the same thing. It’s too redundant they to find out what they do best and focus; finances be damn (it’s a investment in stability) for a bit while they reach into their SNL talent pool for some interesting programing to see if they can capture some new audiences.

    Well that my 2 cents for what it’s worth……YMMV

  • DF

    I disagree about Chase. Its quite a good show imo. They just had a two-part episode that was the best episode yet of the show. Personally, I wish NBC would do more quality shows like Chase.

    My 5 suggestions for NBC:

    1-Don’t Look to Other Networks: There is, imo, no one network right now that has all of the best shows. Each one of them have a ton of clunkers and maybe a couple good shows (if that). Instead, create your OWN identity NBC. Make the network about Quality entertainment that you can find nowhere else.

    2-Ratings Be Damned-I agree with Spinoff on this one. Lets see a network that actually takes chances with shows like Kings and imo, the Event (no parenthood thanks). If the show doesn’t work on a certain night, move it to another night & time, advertise it more, get the word out!

    3-Don’t Look to Comedy: Every network looks to comedy anymore. Every single one have some really awful comedies. I like 30 Rock, but I don’t think its quite as good as it was early on. Other than that, I’m not impressed by NBC’s comedy lineup. Or anyone of the other network’s comedy lineup. Instead, focus NBC on Drama, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and Action shows (some of which might have some comedy in them). Make it the place where people can see shows that make you think and care about the characters & the plot.

    4-Get Rid of all the lame comedies & reality shows: If you’re going to have comedy shows, get some people who are actually funny to come up with the concepts. And get rid of the reality shows for good. Everybody and their subchannels is doing reality shows. Its a stupid genre and someone should say NO to it. Just get rid of them and refocus on being a quality network.

    5- Late night programing: Get rid of Leno. I’m sure you can find someone better than him. Heck, why not talk someone funny like Jim Carrey or Robin Williams into doing the Tonight Show? Or steal Jon Stewart away from Comedy Central? Think outside the box a little. And let’s make Saturday Night Live funny again. If you can’t get Carrey or Robin on Tonight show get them on Saturday Night LIve. Build up a better cast of really funny people for the show. Long ago SNL was one of NBC’s best properties. It could be one of the best again.

    I’d also love to see them take this attitude with USA and the Syfy channel too.

    And yes…I’m know I’m dreaming with this list. They’d never in a million years take any of those suggestions. *sigh* :(

  • Sijo

    N-B-C had a nice ring to it; heck they even keyed it to music notes! The Universal part ruins it.

  • Bclewis6593

    NBC probably permanently damaged itself with that Leno/Conan fiasco. Way back when there were only three networks and cable was only known for first run movies and late night soft core porn it would have been easy for NBC to dig itself out of a hole but not anymore.

  • Bill Reed

    Maybe NBC should try softcore porn.

  • Bill Reed

    I vote for “Make it 1997 again through science or magic.”

  • Skye Oriona

    As long as Parenthood stays on the air for a reasonable amount of time (AT LEAST two more full seasons), I will be a happy camper. Lauren Graham ftw.