NBC Might Cut Back Days…LITERALLY!

Jeff Zucker

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: NBC Universal’s president Jeff Zucker seems to be running that network into the ground. In fact, in my most recent blog posting Soap on a Rope, I tried to lay out what NBC’s wholesale slash-&-burn destruction of its soap franchise has cost the network in several key areas. You can read that specific part of the analysis here.

NBC is mired in fourth place after a disastrous fall. The network recently announced a layoff of 500 employees. For Days of Our Lives, draconian budget cuts have forced out that show’s two marquee stars, Deidre Hall and Drake Hogestyn and resulted in a ton of bad publicity for the show, network and genre at large.

Now comes word from The Hollywood Reporter a story quoting Zucker saying that NBC is looking at the possibility of cutting back it’s entire broadcast schedule. The whole thing. This is what Zucker has to say:

"Can we continue to broadcast 22 hours in primetime? Three of our competitors don’t," Zucker said during Monday’s keynote at the annual UBS media conference. "Can we continue to broadcast seven days a week? One of our competitors doesn’t."

The day to cut that seems to be on NBC’s radar is not exactly clear, but one can deduce the network is looking at the FOX model of 2 hours per broadcast night or cutting Friday’s out like The CW, or possibly both. The article goes on to say that there are rumors that CBS and ABC are also considering cutting back on hours or days and returning them to affiliates.

Zucker is trying to attribute these considerations to the economy, but I’m willing to bet that because he and Ben Silverman have done such a lousy job programming the once powerhouse force that was NBC in prime time that they have decided to cut & run rather than find a winning formula for sucess.

What could this mean for all of the soaps?

Simple: if — and it is a big if — NBC does cut back on the number of days it brodcasts and CBS and ABC were to follow suit, the 3 or 4 day soap schedule will be upon us sooner rather than later.

These developments bear watching, folks.

27 Responses

  1. Profile photo of momsmistchief

    NBC = nothing but crap. I only watch Days and maybe 2 or 3 prime time shows. NBC news is a joke and if it were not for Days of Our Lives I could care less about NBC. What they offer for programing is poor in prime time and their daytime is terrible especially in the morning. The goings on at NBC that bother me the most is concerning Days as I have watched the show from day 1. I would sincerely hate see it go by the boards.

  2. Profile photo of Luke Kerr
    Luke Kerr

    Oh don’t even get me started on Zucker. I was writing a post about this but you beat me to it so I’ll just post mine here. lol

    NBC imploded in the post “Must See TV” era and never recovered, and has redefine itself. Then the remaining cornerstones of its schedule, such as the multiple Law & Order franchises began to falter in the ratings and as NBC became more and more desperate they just started throwing shows on the schedule and hoped that one would be a hit. Heroes was, for a season, but with each new season since its premiere it has lost ratings and critical acclaim.

    The problem is that what is happening in primetime is yet another example of Jeff Zucker’s mismanagement. Though the Today Show is still going strong, NBC decimated its daytime lineup getting rid of its soaps in favor of syndicated Judge shows and other “reality” programming. Then it announced that it was throwing out its late night ratings cash cow Jay Leno in favor of bringing in someone else, when Leno could have been pulling in big ratings for years to come. What assurance does NBC have that Conan will be able to maintain Leno’s ratings?

    I suppose it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that instead of developing quality programming Zucker would consider chopping off five hours of programming, this is the man who suggested programming NBC’s first hour of each night with reality shows.

  3. Profile photo of Beth

    Boy, what a copout. Rather than actively trying to correct their mistakes in lack of creativity and poor management, they are taking the lazy way out and ensuring that jobs will be cut by cutting back on programming or choosing programming time for cheaply-produced shows. And they have the easy excuse of the poor economy to hide their laziness behind. Have they ever thought about taking a pay cut themselves and helping out a little? It’s not like they’ve done anything to deserve their over-inflated salaries.

  4. Profile photo of ladyofthelake

    I’d rather watch Conan then Leno, but it’s a mute point since Letterman is my man to watch.

    NBC is in the toilet because it’s shows suck. Kat & Kim and Nightrider get full season pick ups, please. I only watch Life and ER on NBC. I’ve watched ER it’s entire run, the whole 15 years. I mean Zucker tells everyone to watch 30 Rock while dissing Friday Night Lights, I’d pick Lights any day of the week. Heros still has a chance to get better. They need to retire these Law & Order shows, SUV is unwatchable now. I’m still upset they cancelled Journeyman last year, especially since it was getting better with every episode. He comes off as an ass, I don’t know why he still has a job. Wasn’t he the one who passed on Lost, saying that no one would watch a show like that or was that before him.

  5. Profile photo of Luke Kerr
    Luke Kerr

    NBC used to be “my network” back in the day. It used to be that I always looked to it first for new shows and old favorites but now the only show that is “Must See” on NBC is Heroes. Though to be fair I enjoy Chuck and watch it when I have time but otherwise I don’t have time for it.

  6. Profile photo of J Bernard Jones
    J Bernard Jones

    Luke & Beth,

    You are both absolutely right!

    We’ve seen this story before and not that long ago, either. When Lawrence Tisch took over CBS in the 80’s and Capital Cities owned ABC, both took a hacksaw to their networks.

    Tisch did three horrible things to CBS: He nearly decimated the news operation with draconian budget cuts including shuttering their many foreign bureaus, from which that division still has not recovered; he ceded valuable morning air time to affiliates at the expense of the perennially third place Morning Show, ensuring they would forever be in third place against Today and GMA; lost the NFL franchside to FOX; and lost CBS Music, too.

    Capital Cities was equally as draconian with ABC during it’s ownership, instituting many of the same kinds of costfor ABC’s ratings or stature. One of the biggest Capital Cities battles was over soap salaries, when the network slashed the budget of the ABC soaps in the 90s and sparked a lot of backlash among talent and fans.

    The reigns of Tisch and Cap Cities both produced dark times for their networks, allowing NBC to reign the roost for better part of 15 years or so with smarter choices in programming and in the boardroom. In both Tish and Cap Cities, we see many parallels to what Zucker & Silverman are now doing to NBC.

    Only Zucker and Silverman are doing it doggie style and without the benefit of lubrication.

  7. Profile photo of season1217

    Only Zucker and Silverman are doing it doggie style and without the benefit of lubrication.

    Good grief! Of all the ways to put that you chose the one where the imagery is barf inducing!

  8. Profile photo of ladyofthelake

    “Can we continue to broadcast seven days a week? One of our competitors doesn’t.”

    I just realized that he was talking about the CW, right? The CW, where I live it’s the CW only when they air their shows, so that’s like from 8 till 11. I don’t know if it’s like that anywhere else. Also, it’s not the CW on saterdays. Um, the CW isn’t the network to copy, it’s only been around for two years. Everyone I know who watched the CW only watches the shows on there that use to be on the WB. I think it’s crazy, it’s like thinking MTV has a good format.

  9. Profile photo of J Bernard Jones
    J Bernard Jones


    CW affiliates are a hodgepodge of broadcasting mix-&-match programming. Some CW affiliates also mix their programming with other networks, particularly in small markets.

    Officially, The CW only broadcasts Sunday-Thursday, 8PM-11PM Eastern. CW Sundays are an odd duck, which have been mostly reruns. This past season they farmed out all of the Sunday night block (7PM-10PM) to an independent production company, but it crashed and burned so they are back to reruns.

    The CW does not officially broadcast on Saturdays although I think I few of their affiliates rerun CW shows.

  10. Profile photo of Scout

    In the case of Days, 3 days of crap might be better than 5; in primetime, NBC put all its eggs in the ‘Law & Order’ basket a long time ago and it is a myopic move that has costs the ‘network’ big time. The only shows worth watching on NBC are ‘The Office’ (which is aging rapidly) and ’30 Rock’, which despite Tina Fey’s recent high profile, still has trouble attracting viewers. In late night, the soon-to-be unappealing pairing of Conan and Jimmy Fallon will assure that most of America will turn in early.

    My point? Let the network burn to the ground. Just as it is on Wall Street and the Motor City, bad decisions and the pissing away of money has brought them to this point. And if Days goes — well, good. It’s already like watching a beloved relative suffering a slow and painful death.

    But make no mistake: NBC’s news division is no more laughable than the hate-mongering jackasses at Fox.

  11. Profile photo of Regan Cellura
    Regan Cellura

    “I mean Zucker tells everyone to watch 30 Rock while dissing Friday Night Lights, I’d pick Lights any day of the week.”

    THIS is why I hate this man… Friday Night Lights is AWESOME and all he had to say was watch 30 Rock? Once ER is done, I will only watch NBC for The Office. IF by some act of God, FNL gets picked up for another season, I’ll watch but that’s it. I am done with NBC, my ban on CBS may have to be lifted.

  12. Profile photo of kerfuffles

    Just in my layperson’s opinion, it seems that if the major networks slash their original programming, then they lose their brand identity. They become like any other cable network that just airs 10 or less original shows a week, and will therefore get ratings like the cable networks, which are usually much smaller than the networks get.

    Maybe that is ultimately a more profitable situation for the big networks because their overhead costs would be reduced accordingly, but it just seems like a bad idea to me.

    I agree with those who have said that the better idea seems to be don’t slash the programming but make the programming BETTER. Yes network audiences have shrunk, but there are still shows that get 15 million in viewers. Granted, not all of those are what I consider good shows, but they still demonstrate, imo, that what Zucker is saying is indeed a copout/scapegoat.

  13. Profile photo of elbugten

    Will they change the name of the show to “Day of our life”? That extra “S” they’ll save could put some money back in their coffers! }:)

    I’ll admit the only NBC shows I watch are The Today Show (except for the insipid Kathie Lee filled 4th hour), ER (watched from the beginning; when it goes, so do I), SNL, Medium and occasionally L&W: SVU and my guilty pleasure, The Biggest Loser. Must-See TV it ain’t. Makes me sad sitting here with my Friends mouse pad and my Will & Grace pen to think that the network that once brought us great shows like Cheers, The Cosby Show, St. Elsewhere, Family Ties, The A-Team, etc. has been reduced to this. :(

  14. Profile photo of season1217

    Let’s not forget that not that long ago ABC was in the pits until a few shows named Desperate Housewives, Lost, and Grey’s Anatomy came along. There is still time for Zucker to visit Oz and get a brain… right?

  15. Profile photo of soapjunkie88

    Yeah, since he bashed FNL, I hate this man!!!

    And now, it’s like he has become the head of the television mafia, with his great friend Ken Corday in daytime. What an awful world…

  16. Profile photo of Jorpa

    I wouldn’t miss NBC at all if they totally went off the air. I never watch anything on there anyway. When I do watch DOOL, I watch on Soapnet.

  17. Profile photo of Rebee

    Maybe Zucker, Corday and Higley are all conspiring to drive the whole network into the ground. If cutting Days to 3 or 4 times per week means a better product then by all means. I wont hold my breath, though. You’re right watching Days is like watching a dear friend die a slow agonizing battle with cancer and ya just wanna pull the plug sometimes but I still am hopefull there’s a cure out there.

  18. Profile photo of Scout

    I don’t think anything can save Days and I’m not sure I even care. If Corday doesn’t give a sh** about his parents’ legacy, then why should I?

    The only thing that could possibly save Days is to take the show outta that f***wit’s hands — which will never happen. Corday has got that GW Bush know-it-all attitude and refuses to hear the train coming until it’s five feet away.

    Let Days die: it’s an embarrassment that gives soaps a bad name; it’s such a preposterous train wreck now, no wonder people make fun of soaps — and there’s still quality soaps out there in which to be emotionally invested. I understand the bad economics times and blah-blah-blah, but I don’t care.

    I’m tired of being jerked around by a hapless, greedy idiot, his dumbass HW and a show that doesn’t even deserve its puny 18 month pickup.

  19. Profile photo of

    Bottom line is that NBC hasn’t respected their audience for years. I, as Luke, used to consider NBC my network and right now the only show I watch is Heroes. Even that show is losing my support.

    I think two things precipitated the downward spiral going on today at NBC. One, they hired Jeff Zucker, who btw was ep at the Today Show, a show 2 hours too long, to the top position at NBC. When he got the network Friends was the #1 show. He subsequently went after the daytime fans, turning them against each other. Pitting the new Sunset Beach fans against the Another World fans by canceling one and making it look like one was sacrificed to save the other when that was not true.

    That leads me to two. The network got greedy when they got permission to own the shows they air. It was the real reason they got rid of AW. This lead the network to bear the full burden of the shows failing. There will never be a show like Cheers going from last place to reigning. It will never happen because the good shows will never have the chance to grow.

    It’s disappointing. NBC will never be the behemoth it used to be and with the clowns running the show it will be far less than it already is now.

  20. Profile photo of ConqueringBlue

    In terms of NBC’s lack of soaps, how realistic would it be to import foreign soaps? The soaps are already in existance, so there wouldn’t be any money to make the shows, and American audiences can have easy access to, for instance, a couple of British soaps that have huge followings on the internet. It seems like such a shame for NBC to give up on soaps completely, and if they don’t have the money to invest in creating a new soap, maybe they can take a chance on something a little different, that already has a built in internet fan base…

    Probably a stupid idea, but it seems as if Zucker is just throwing in the towel.

  21. Profile photo of Scout

    It doesn’t seem that NBC is throwing in the towel on just soaps — they’ve thrown the towel in on primetime, too.

    But when the best idea they can come up with is a remake of ‘Knight Rider’ — which sucked the first time around — or that godawful Christian Slater show, then maybe it’s time to throw in the towel.

    And, anyway, it’s not like Zucker or Silverman have a clue as to what constitutes good television.

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