Everytime I glance at the television monitor in the newsroom that shows the local NBC channel, I see two women sitting at a table gabbing on and on and on about something or another. There’s no video, no interviews, no musical guests, just these two… who are talking as if they’re jobs depend on it.
Maybe they do. Because now more than ever, programming at the peacock network has become not much more than gab fests.
From 10pm Central time tonight, until 2pm tomorrow, the Nashville NBC affiliate, WSMV will have nothing on the air other than talk shows and news programs.
- 10pm. Local news
- 10:30 Jay Leno
- 11:30 Conan
- 12:35 Carson Daily
- 1:00 repeat of 10pm local news
- 1:30 Poker after Dark (not sure what this is)
- 2:35 repeat of Leno
- 3:30 early Today
- 4-7:00 local morning news
- 7-10:00 Today
- 10:00 The 700 Club
- 11:00 More Today
- 12:00 local news
- 1pm Better (a talk/magazine show)
- 2pm Days of our Lives
That’s 16 straight hours of talk/news programming with the exception of a one hour show about poker. And if you combine the afternoon and evening lineups of Dr. Phil, Oprah, 90 minutes of local news and 30 minutes of national news, you come up with NBC stations airing only 3 hours of original non-news or talk programming each day. And only two of those hours are actually scripted shows (Days of Our Lives, Law and Order) the other hour is reality tv (The Biggest Loser).
How soon before NBC becomes nothing but talk and news? Maybe not much longer since Leno is moving to prime-time just before the late local news. If NBC fills his empty spot by moving around the other talk-shows and eventually programs a new nightly talk-show, the hours of actual creative programming will be reduced to 2 or maybe even 1.
Why? It is less expensive for networks to produce talk or reality shows than it is for them to hire screenwriters, actors, directors, and editors to produce a one-hour scripted drama or comedy. I’ve read that CBS spends more than $1 million and maybe closer to 2 to produce a single episode of CSI.
And with more and more viewers turning off their tvs at night or tuning in to the more than a hundred cable shows (my wife watches “Mystery Diagnosis” every night), how much longer will it make sense for networks to write those checks?
So that’s why we may all have to get used to seeing talk-show re-treads like Kathie Lee Gifford gab on and on and on about the shoes she didn’t buy at Macy’s, or the latest celebrity gossip or, like today, Mardis Gras stories. She and the other host are still sitting at the same table, still blabbing about something or another. They’ve gone on now for at least 20 minutes.
Now it isn’t just NBC, all of the networks have cut back their scripted programming to some extent by producing more and more reality shows or news programs. But I hope the networks won’t give up on grabbing a larger piece of the viewing audience pie. I hope ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX develop some new and interesting and entertaining shows, dramas, sitcoms, and even sketch comedies. I’m afraid NBC is soon going to look so much like MSNBC we won’t be able to tell the difference.
It isn’t too late. We still tune in to those network channels first before hitting the up or down buttons.
Please, make us stop.