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.