Just last month, Dustin wrote a piece declaring NBC officially dead. The network got zero Golden Globe nominations, and even as we all love to point out how ludicrous the Golden Globes are and how they don’t actually mean anything, an entire once-golden network having nothing to offer that can garner even ONE bit of recognition… well, that sure seems to mean something. Even taking awards out of the picture, as Dustin pointed out, how many current NBC shows can you actually name? How many do you watch? See? Dead.
So how did NBC respond to this new reputation? Because we’re not even close to being the only ones saying these things. NBC has been slipping for a while, and after they passed on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, which ended up being one of the best comedies of 2015, it seemed they had all but handed their crown over to Netflix for good. So what did Netflix do? Did they hunker down to retool, bring in some fresh new minds and try to reclaim the magic they once brought into our living rooms in their Must-See-TV heyday?
No, of course not. NBCUniversal hired a tech team to try to find out Netflix and Amazon’s famously undisclosed ratings numbers. And surprise, surprise. The network’s head of research, Alan Wurtzel, says we shouldn’t count NBC out of the race just yet. Not because their programs are good, but because, according to the firm they paid to do this investigation, “The notion that they are replacing broadcast TV may not be quite accurate.”
Here are some of the things they found:
—Netflix and Amazon’s claims that Orange Is the New Black and Man In the High Castle are their most most popular shows, respectively, are accurate.
—In the first two weeks after OITNB’s last season aired, viewers spent up to 25% of their total television-watching time on just that one show.
—That surge in viewership wasn’t unique to OITNB. Master of None and Narcos also got a huge percentage of viewers’ time in the first two weeks, and then significantly dropped off.
All of this, Wurtzel says, means “we need a little bit of perspective when we talk about the impact of Netflix and SVOD [outlets].” Except that I think most of us already had that perspective. Sure, most of us don’t have our livelihoods wrapped up in these numbers, but I think most people know that in terms of straight numbers— even though the streaming services don’t release their data— Netflix isn’t in the same category as the networks. In terms of word of mouth, social media buzz, critical acclaim, and overall quality, though, NBC is dead.
Maybe the network could turn some its attention and funding to creating content we want to watch, instead of stalking Netflix’s numbers. They’re bringing Kristen Bell and Ted Danson together for our entertainment. That’s a pretty decent start. How about continuing down that road? Must See TV may be a distant memory, but maybe one day they can at least get back to Passably Interesting TV. Here’s hoping.