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‘Southland,’ ‘Parks’ Ratings Prompt Optimism for NBC’s Silverman

April 10, 2009 4:23 PM

So why was Thursday a night that was different from all others?

Ben Silverman

Well, in addition to being the second night of Passover, two new shows premiered on NBC Thursday. And unlike most of the network's recent efforts (and, quite frankly, virtually all of this year's midseason class), both "Parks and Recreation" and "Southland" bowed to decent ratings.

The numbers were good enough to prompt Ben Silverman, co-chairman, NBC Entertainment and NBC Universal Television Studio, to get on the phone and declare ... well, not exactly victory.

"We're very excited about the promise of these shows," he said. "They're both super good. They're totally on brand. ...And (with “Southland,” which saw a ratings bump at the half-hour mark) it was nice to see people calling up each other and saying, 'You gotta see this show.’"

Mr. Silverman said he's also proud of "Kings," saying all three shows prove his network's commitment to quality.

"We're the only network delivering these unique, quality shows," he said. "They may not all generate the best ratings. But these are the best shows. ... What's clear is, these shows are special."

Mr. Silverman said it was too soon to talk about pickups or, in the case of "Kings," cancellation.

"This is a marathon, not a sprint," he said. "We"ll be patient with them."

He also praised the "innovation" behind NBC's marketing and scheduling of the Thursday lineup. “Southland’s’ marketing effort included a front-page ad in the Los Angeles Times that was formatted to resemble a news story.

"Moves like what we did with the L.A. Times show how we really are innovators," he said. "We try to innovate whatever we do."

He also hinted "Kings" might not be as dead as its recent move to Saturdays would suggest. Noting NBC's efforts on behalf of “Friday Night Lights,” which stayed alive through a distribution deal with DirecTV, Mr. Silverman noted NBC "has kept a lot of shows alive through innovation."

—Josef Adalian

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