Coming off a ratings victory for the 2016-17 season in adults 18-49 without a Super Bowl or Olympics, NBC is expected to win next season in both total viewers and the demo, NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt said during the network’s TCA executive session. While that was a fairly easy projection to make, he also was optimistic that the network could also be No. 1 in the demo when sports programming is taken out.
Instead of a slew of news announcements as he has traditionally made in the past, Greenblatt opted to focus his opening remarks on the health of the broadcast business and its evolution into multi-platform. Echoing the CW president Mark Pedowitz’s comments the day before, Greenblatt said, “I’m happy to say that NBC is alive and well.”
He made a strong pitch for multi-platform viewing. “Delayed and digital are keeping broadcast afloat,” he said. Listing stats on NBC’s ratings rising over the past years when multi-platform viewership is factored in and showing a slide of how multi-platform viewing dwarfs Live+Same Day, Greenblatt said, “I don’t think the narrative should be broadcast vs. digital anymore but linear plus digital.”
He added that the network is able to monetize its programming that is seen on all other platforms except for DVR viewing past the first seven days. Additionally, the audience that watches NBC shows on digital are on average 20 years younger that those who watch it on linear, he said.
Greenblatt also addressed the upcoming revival of Will & Grace and the fact that the show will forgo the plot twist in the series finale on NBC, in which the central characters went on to have separate lives and children.
“There’s jokes about it in the first episode,” Greenblatt said. “I don’t think you want to see them with aging children. We love the essence of the old show, and there’s clever ways about why they’re still living together. We just love the old show.”
He added that the network would like to extend the revival’s run beyond the 12 episodes ordered. “I would say I hope there is more to come,” he said.
That I think would be the greatest outcome of this whole thing.”
Greenblatt also talked about the decision — and subsequent reversal — to move This Is Us to Thursday. He explained the rationale about moving the network’s strongest drama as new Thursday tentpole, and noted that creator Dan Fogelman was on board, with NBC announcing an idea for a Christmas episode to help bridge the six-episode pre-emption for Thursday Night Football. But eventually, “we started to think, ‘Is this the best way to run the show for the rabid fans who are hopefully going to come back in droves?'” he said of the plan to air five This Is Us originals, followed by a six-week break, which would’ve been followed by a pre-emption for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
“We all agreed that maybe the interruption was not the best thing for the show,” Greenblatt said.