In a surprising move that could alter the TV landscape, NBC is considering shrinking its Primetime output. According to The Wall Street Journal, the network is considering surrendering its 10 pm timeslot back to local affiliates. The decision is not final at this time, but it’s being discussed among network big wigs.
NBC’s current 10 pm shows include huge titles such as Law & Order: Organized Crime and Chicago PD. There’s also the soon-to-conclude New Amsterdam and the upcoming Quantum Leap reboot. This news likely doesn’t mean these heavyweight performers are going away. But if the network does forgo its 10 pm timeslot these shows will need to find new time slots.
The move would shrink NBC’s primetime output by seven hours per week for most of the year. But this could help save NBC money during a time when ratings have steadily declined. Plus, more and more networks are shifting their resources into the streaming market. NBC has its own horse in the streaming race with Peacock. NBCuniversal and its parent company Comcast appear ready to go all in on the streaming platform.
The network’s upcoming TV season has already been mapped out through most of next year. Including the 10 pm timeslot. So the earliest the move could happen would be in Fall 2023.
The Hollywood Reporter says that while NBC hasn’t made a formal proposal to their affiliate stations yet, many of those groups would be happy to take the 10 pm hour for their own programs. The hour could instead be used for local news programming or syndicated TV episodes.
Cutting the Primetime Hour on NBC
NBC hasn’t confirmed the change, but the report from the Journal is making the rounds. The network responded with this official statement. “We are always looking at strategies to ensure that our broadcast business remains as strong as possible. As a company, our advantage lies in our ability to provide audiences with the content they love across broadcast, cable and streaming.”
Alongside ABC and CBS, NBC has utilized the 8 pm to 11 pm timeslot as the primetime hours dating back to the Golden Age of TV. It’s during this window of time the networks air their most coveted pieces of original programming on their flagship channels and their local affiliates.
Should NBC trim its third hour from primetime, this would bring it in line with younger networks like Fox and The CW which also air two hours of primetime programming a night.
The proposed plan likely would not impact game nights. NBC airs Sunday night football which often runs past the 11 pm primetime cutoff. It could impact the air time for late-night programming such as The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Late Night With Seth Meyers, and possibly Saturday Night Live as well.