An Open Letter to NBC

Hi guys… I know you are sort of busy trying to figure out how to get the last few people to stop watching your shows in prime time, but I figured you might have a few minutes to have a read and see what an actual viewer has to say.

First off, let me say that I know things are tough. Cable, the million channel universe, expensive sports, 24 hour news channels, and just about everything else under the sun is nibbling away at your overall viewership. However, your immediate competitors at the other 3 networks aren’t suffering as bad, so it must be something they are doing or you are not doing that is screwing it up. I know that is an obvious statement, but sometimes you gotta frame the problem.

So, let’s get to the issues.

I don’t like to chase around looking for shows. The biggest error for 2006-2007 at NBC has been with the Law and Order shows. Bad enough that the main L&O has been suffering the last few years with a quick rotation on cast and some seriously horrible navel gazing scripts, but you guys moved the thing out of Wednesday and shoved it off to Friday. Why didn’t you just club it over the head like a baby seal and leave it to bleed out? That move put it in a space with lower potential viewers, and confused the heck out of those of us who watched it on Wednesday. I would have to say that I have watched MAYBE 2 episodes this entire year as a result (I have other things to do on Friday nights, thanks).

Clumping the other L&O shows together sounds like a good idea, but like sugar, heroin, or Dateline NBC, too much of a good thing is deadly. Again, most people aren’t going to dedicate 2 hours to watching just L&O, and as a result you are totally burning a night out for people who don’t like L&O. CI was much better on Sunday nights, and all L&O type shows are better at 10Pm. Parents will lose the fight at 9PM with their kids, and end up watching something else (because kids don’t like L&O much, from what I can tell). You are also having issues with the costs for actors and such to justify these shows.

Solution: Move L&O back to Wednesday where it belongs. Make a strong move and bring Chris Noth over there, and work on getting some stability in your actors – sign the next assistant DA to at least a 2 year contract… this one and done stuff sucks. Run CI on Sunday, and send SVU out to pasture (except maybe for a couple of 2 hour movie specials for 2007-2008 to run them out and tie up the threads).

Thursday…. ahh, Thursday… Now the proud home of “must miss TV”. ER lost me as a viewer a long, long time ago, and you are fighting a horrible battle against both CSI and Grey’s at 9PM which pretty much makes anything you put up there look like lunch meat. Your best hope is to get the best out of 8PM, and hope like hell people tune back in at 10PM to see ER.

Solution: Do whatever is needed to make 8PM and 8:30PM into the funniest hour of comedy in the week. One day, it will let you once again be a player at 9PM… and then get the people who make ER into a room and make them rewatch the first season over again, and then make them watch Grey’s Anatomy every day. Remind them of what an actual HIT show looks like. Try to make some commercials promoting the episodes that don’t include terms like “the most important ER ever!” or “the most shocking ER ever!”. Your promo people have cried wolf on that about twice too often, and that truly, truly sucks.

I could go on for a month, giving specific suggestions. But the reality is this: too much of a good thing will kill you.  Too much Law and Order, too much Dateline, too much of Howie’s Deal or no Deal… every time you guys get something good going, you immediately run it to death in short order, until nobody wants to see it anymore.

Law and Order needs to be somewhere else other than Friday.  You sent it to about the second worst spot on the entire week’s schedule, and you are surprised that the viewership went down.  Plenty of people have way more interesting things to do than watch TV at 10PM on a Friday night.   Consider getting it back to Wednesday, and you will see things suddenly come back to normal.

Good luck.  The net is going to get all of you anyway!