OK, way too many pie charts, bar graphs and acronyms for a Sunday morning: At today’s TCA briefings, NBC Research and Development President Alan Wurtzel tried to explain why old-school, traditional Nielsen ratings just don’t mean what they used to. And given that, he begged TV journalists to examine the much bigger picture before calling a new program a big loser.
If you sat in on this panel, you got to hear a lot of talk about such ratings jargon as HUTs (households using television) PUTs (persons using television) and “longtail” program consumption (not a weird squirrel but that audience of people who watch a show after its first airing by catching it on VOD, or Netflix, or Hulu or any other of an exploding array of new platforms)
NBC’s ‘Chicago Fire’, ‘Parks & Rec’, ‘Grimm’ And ‘Parenthood’ Go Digital To Keep Fans Engaged During Games
NBC announced today it will offer digital series for four of its primetime series; Chicago Fire, Parks And Recreation, Grimm, and Parenthood to keep fans focused in February while Olympics take over NBC’s primetime. All digital series will be streamed on NBC.com, Hulu and YouTube.
From today’s announcement:
NBC Chairman made the announcement when pressed by critics at TCA about the future of well reviewed by ratings-challenged Parks & Recreation. He initially said he was “bullish” on the show’s chances before going a step further, stating that “Parks & Recreation is going to have a seventh season.” NBC entertainment president Jennifer Salke was quick to jump in and note that a renewal for Parks & Recreation does not impact a pickup decision on Community, which NBC brass also like but will evaluate their comedy plans for next season before making a decision.
FXX hasn’t really unveiled itself — the FX comedy-network spinoff debuts originals of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, The League and late-night strip Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell launch tomorrow night — but the network’s already talking about its Labor Day Warmup numbers. Seems that when you used to be Fox Soccer Channel, even a lobotomizingly long 7 AM-to-midnight Parks & Recreation rerun marathon, followed by a two-hour Mad About You exhumation. will churn up enough viewers to generate gimongous ratings percent increases. This also serves to explain why reporting percent increases so often can be a mug’s game.
Paced by its Parks & Rec marathon, FXX posted primetime gains of 860% in adults 18-34 compared with September 2012 averages. And by 860% we mean 48,000 viewers instead of 5,000. In total viewers, FXX’s Find This Channel Labor Day rerun marathon coughed up a slightly less impressive 108% increase, from 39,000 soccer viewers to 81,000 Parks & Rec-aholics.
Comparing Labor Day to Labor Day, the results are even more stupendous: For Total Day, FXX posted gains of 1,850% in 18-49 compared to Fox Soccer Channel. In fairness, Fox Soccer Channel only averaged 2,000 viewers last Labor Day. FXX’s comedy retread-a-thon logged 54,000 viewers.
Moral of this story? It’s good to be the former Fox Soccer Channel.
She is one of the hottest TV stars at the moment. In her first gig on a U.S. comedy series, Orphan Black leading lady Tatiana Maslany has booked an arc on NBC’s Parks & Recreation, playing a love interest for Tom (Aziz Ansari). Canadian-born Maslany, repped by Resolution and Characters Talent Agency, recently won the Critics Choice TV Award for best drama actress and the TCA drama acting award for her role on BBC America’s clone drama Orphan Black.
NBC faces the task of scheduling six new comedies for next season with only two returning half-hour series: Community, which received an eleventh-hour 13-episode renewal, and Parks & Recreation. The network may just have the right man for the job. This is head of scheduling Jeff Bader‘s first turn at bat after moving to NBC last summer. As a long-time scheduling topper at ABC, he was presented with a similar challenge four years ago when the network picked up five new comedy series and returned two. Like Parks & Rec and Community, those two returning comedies, Scrubs and Better Off Ted, were quirky cult shows and not anchors that could launch new series. What Bader and ABC brass did back then was let Scrubs and Ted be, pairing them together for what became both series’ final season. Then they took four new comedies and launched a new two-hour comedy block on Wednesday. It worked – three of the four comedies are still on the air: Modern Family and The Middle on ABC and Cougar Town on TBS. (The fourth, Hank, was quickly cancelled.)
Bader may take a similar approach at NBC. Like at ABC in 2009, the two returning NBC comedies are workplace, while most of the new series are family or family-esque (Michael J. Fox, Welcome To The Family, The Family Guide, Sean Saves The World, About A Boy). Coincidentally, the last new comedy series this year, Undateable, is a multi-camera show about dating, which was also the case at ABC in 2009 with Romantically Challenged, which was scheduled behind Dancing With The Stars.
UPDATE: Whitney now has also been officially picked up. The order for Parks & Rec is for a full-season 22 episodes. No definitive word on the size of the orders for the two freshmen shows yet, but they may be for 13 episodes in line with Community. UPDATE: Up All Night star Christina Applegate indicated on her Twitter feed that the show’s order is indeed for 13 episodes.
PREVIOUS: NBC has resumed the renewal of comedy series with the pickups of Parks & Recreation and Up All Night for season five and two, respectively. There is talk that freshman Whitney also is getting renewed but no confirmation on that yet. And still no renewal for NBC’s flagship comedy series The Office. Up All Night co-executive producer, Everybody Loves Raymond veteran Tucker Cawley, is expected to be upped to executive producer/showrunner on the family/workplace comedy for Season 2, succeeding Jon Pollack, who left to join new NBC comedy series Go On as co-executive producer. Cawley is with CAA.
While Fox wrapped its new series pickups and existing series renewals within a couple of hours yesterday, for NBC, whose upfront presentation is on the same day as Fox, it has become a week-long ordeal. After early series pickup of comedy Go On and renewals of Grimm and Smash last month, the network began its orders/renewals in earnest on Monday morning. Four days later, it’s still nowhere near done.
NBC’s highest-rated comedy series, The Office, is yet to get a renewal. (With stars Ed Helms, John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer poised to return that now appears imminent.) The fate of NBC’s second most watched drama series, Harry’s Law (8.8 million viewers, only a fraction behind the Voice-boosted Smash with 9.0 million), is hanging in the balance. There’s no word on Parks & Recreation, Up All Night and Whitney. The Office, Parks & Recreation and Up All Night are all fully expected to return, and I hear their renewals may be done in one fell swoop. Buzz is also encouraging on Harry’s Law, which I hear is eyed for a potential 13-episode midseason order. The multi-camera Whitney is on the fence but not dead as the sole multi-camera comedy series picked up for next season so far, newbie Guys With Kids, is still looking for a companion.
Which brings us to the NBC pilots. Word is the network has not officially released those that haven’t been picked up despite speculation that it is pretty much done with its orders. That includes two of NBC’s highest-testing and well-received pilots, the multi-camera comedies Daddy’s Girls and Lady Friends, which had been in limbo but presumed dead. (Will ABC or CBS make a play for them?) On the drama side, none of the pilots that have not been picked up already seem to be in contention anymore.