The Wall Street Journal reports that NBC is currently considering whether or not to cut back on the number of hours that it devotes to its prime time programming.
The Journal cited “people familiar with the matter” for its report.
These insiders told the Journal that NBC is specifically discussing scenarios in which it would stop producing national programming during the 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. hour, instead giving that time slot to local television stations.
The Journal reported this as “a cost-cutting move that would reflect broadcast television’s diminishing popularity.” However, a report from Variety, on the same subject, disputes this characterization.
“Insiders say that this conversation has happened multiple times over the past 10 years, and emphasize this is not the first time the option of ceding time to affiliates has been discussed at the broadcaster,” Variety reports. “Instead, this is just the most recent in ongoing explorations and it could lead to no changes at all.”
The outlet adds, “additionally, sources say NBCU is not mulling this as a cost-cutting move that would lead to less programming, but one that might be made to best utilize the broadcast brand and relationship with affiliates vs. its streaming and cable options.”
NBC, itself, has also put out its own statement on the matter.
“While NBC is the number one network, we are always looking at strategies to ensure that our broadcast business remains as strong as possible,” a spokesperson said. “As a company, our advantage lies in our ability to provide audiences with the content they love across broadcast, cable, and streaming.”
“Symbolic yet significant”
As would be expected, NBC is trying to make it appear as though everything is just fine, as though nothing out of the ordinary is going on here.
The New York Times, though, has offered a different take on the matter.
The Times published a report saying that, if NBC were to go ahead and cut back its prime time programming, it would be a “symbolic yet significant change” to the American television scene. Here, the Times was referring to just how important this hour has been in the past.
The Times additionally opined that “even the consideration of such a move shows the waning influence of traditional broadcast television.”