Ratings Show NBC Needs Some Hit TV Shows

NBC has used the slogan "Must See TV" but people aren't watching the network like they used to. In the latest ratings, NBC did not have a show in the Top 10, and only had three programs in the Top 25. Analysts blame part of the problem on NBC's miscalculation concerning late night talks shows.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, host:

Something strange happened this past week in the world of television ratings: NBC did not manage to get a single show ranked in the Top 20.

NPR's Neda Ulaby reports that NBC is still recovering from the showdown between Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien and the end of the Olympics.

NEDA ULABY: Here's what everyone is watching instead of NBC...

(Soundbite of TV show, "American Idol")

Unidentified Man: This is "American Idol."

ULABY: ...on Fox. CBS has a dozen top-ranked shows, including multiple "CSI"s. Name your location.

(Soundbite of song, "Who Are You")

ULABY: And ABC has "Gray's Anatomy" and "Desperate Housewives." NBC has squat.

Mr. ERIC DEGGANS (TV/Media Critic, St. Petersburg Time): They are deep in a hole.

ULABY: Eric Deggans covers television for the St. Petersburg Times.

Mr. DEGGANS: The NBC brand used to stand for something. It was sort of urbane, cutting-edge drama and comedy. That brand, you know, ran its course and they didnt come up with a new one.

(Soundbite of music)

ULABY: Fans of NBC's Thursday night line-up - "30 Rock," "The Office," "Parks and Rec" - congratulations. Critics say you have excellent taste. But those shows just do not draw the massive audiences of comedies like CBS's "Two and a Half Men."

Bill Gorman co-runs a Web site called TV By the Numbers. He blames NBC's colossal miscalculation concerning late night talk shows.

Mr. BILL GORMAN (TVByTheNumbers.com): NBC has been so radioactive this year, and so noteworthy in its 10 P.M. disaster that all the light has been focused on them.

ULABY: Gorman says shows depend on advertisers, and they dont care about rankings, just how many 18-to-49-year-olds are tuning in. And Gorman says NBC's travails have drawn attention away from another network disaster.

Mr. GORMAN: On a season-to-date basis, ABC is down seven percent with adults 18 to 49. Thats the worse performance of the broadcast networks.

ULABY: Still, at least ABC's ratings should rebound with next week's return of "Dancing With The Stars."

As for NBC, Gorman predicts things will get worse before they get better.

Mr. GORMAN: NBC has not reached the bottom of where they're going to be this spring. Theyve got nothing left.

ULABY: Most of us are looking forward to summer. NBC executives cannot wait till fall, when the network will launch a raft of new programming.

Neda Ulaby, NPR News.

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