NBC already has a lot of live television, the network’s entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt admitted at TCA today, noting Saturday Night Live, America’s Got Talent, The Voice, and the holiday musicals. Comedy Undateable is being added to the list this fall with all-live episodes. “Well, I’m a live junkie and not only do I like it personally, but I think it’s one of the tools that we have available to us to try to compel the audience to watch something when we program it, which, of course, is the great challenge we all have now, because you can time-shift and watch shows whenever you want them,” Greenblatt said. “Our business really depends on people watching in a certain time period.”
NBC had been looking to do a live comedy for a couple of years and even tried to develop one from scratch. Now that that is crossed off the list with Undateable, “I want to do a live drama, figure out how to do a live drama,” Greenblatt said. “You got to find the producers who really want to go there with you, because there is a bit of a high‑wire act.”
Greenblatt was asked about the increasing number of reboots of old shows — NBC has Heroes limited series and Coach follow-up series coming up. When a critic said many perceived the news of a Coach revamp as a practical joke, Greenblatt quipped, “One man’s practical joke is another man’s hit show.”
“It’s not a direct kind of reboot,” he said about the new Coach, with original creator Barry Kemp. It’s a picking up and it’s an extended family and Hayden is a grandfather, and a father-and-son story. So it’s a way to do another variation on a family show with, I think, a truly talented star and a great showrunner and a presold title. And if that works, then ALF: The Series is next.”
Greenblatt was asked about the decision to renew summer drama Aquarius despite soft ratings. “I’m never going to apologize for renewing a show that I think is creatively superb for a second season,” he said. The network’s move to make the entire season available on premiere night actually helped viewers’ perception of NBC, he said.
“We’re obviously in a changing world. We’re looking every day for what are the ways that we can really respond to the way that the audience wants to watch television. We all know that the binge-watching is a thing and people demand it. And so we thought, well, maybe we could do that with this show and see what happens. The upside of what happened is that people automatically thought better of the network. We did some early research and people were more favorably disposed to NBC for having a show that could be binged than they otherwise would be.”
But overall, 94% of Aquarius’ audience came from linear viewing on NBC and only 6% from online (though at a much lower median age).