NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt today addressed the in-season stacking issue, which has dominated the networks’ negotiations with outside studios for new series pickups this season. NBC, along with ABC, has been particularly aggressive in pursuing in-season stacking rights on all new shows, refusing to pick up a series without those rights, which allow nets to stream all episodes from a series’ current season on its platforms, not just the standard “rolling five.” Greenblatt did not say outright that NBC locked in-season stacking rights from all studios, but he hinted that it indeed is the case.
“This is the future of our business; stacking is important to us,” he said. “We were able to work through successfully with various studios to get them. It is the order of the day.”
Because of the new stacking demands, NBC went down to the wire with Sony TV, which had two hot pilots, Timeless, which landed the network’s premier Monday 10 PM slot, and the Blacklist spinoff, also picked up for next season, plus Cruel Intentions, which is still in consideration.
Greenblatt noted that studios are “protective of the ancillary ways” they can make money. But “the world is going in that direction gradually, and we have had good progress in that direction, even with our own studio.”
ABC set the tone in March, announcing what the network called an “unprecedented” in-season stacking rights deal with Warner Bros. The broadcast networks have argued that owning these rights would allow viewers to catch up on shows and discover new ones, thus driving more eyeballs to them. There is a downside for studios — they will likely not be able to command top dollar in licensing the shows to SVOD platforms like Netflix, which insists on exclusivity. Still, the studios get compensated by the broadcast networks for the in-season stacking rights and the strategy could help their shows stay the air longer, something they can monetize in other ways.
Greenblatt also was asked to comment on the program-ownership issue. NBC has been more liberal than other networks in giving shows from outside studios the network’s best slots, as it is doing again this fall with Sony TV’s Timeless and 20th TV’s This Is Us, which landed the two post-Voice berths.
“The world is in a different place than it once was,” Greenblatt said. “We certainly take into consideration ownership issues when we decide where a show goes on schedule. But at the end of day, we are looking for the best shows to get the best places on the schedule. It is an advantage if the shows come from our studio, that’s great, but we wouldn’t do that at the detriment of our schedule.”