NBC's programming chief Ben Silverman has a solution to help broadcasters make more money. They should be able to sell to advertisers against the live-plus-seven-day ratings for shows, Mr. Silverman said during a morning keynote interview at NATPE in Las Vegas.
"We don't get paid for live-plus-seven, but every week we look at that and say, 'We wish these were the ratings.' So how do we monetize that?" he said. "There is a real disconnect between a lot of the reporting on the morning-of ratings report that drives so much communication on the health of the media business and specific shows' health or failure. Things get labeled hit or miss based on limited information on their success."
Take Emmy Award-winning show "30 Rock," he said. "Is '30 Rock' a success with 8 [million] to 10 million and a 3.5 in the demo and winning every award and performing with a high demo and selling DVDs? Or is it just the initial 8 [million] to 10 million viewers?" he asked.
When asked if TV ratings are eroding over the long term, Mr. Silverman pointed to the growth of NBC Universal's cable networks. "Our No. 1 competition is television, and that's cable. What needs to be addressed is cable is a technological innovation like the Internet. Cable channels are transforming the profit center and the media companies are more hedged than they have ever been."
Mr. Silverman owned up to the challenges his fourth-place network confronts, citing the impact the writers strike had on the development process at NBC last year. For the 2009 season, he said, NBC is taking more time with material to put higher-quality programming on the air.
In the fall, NBC's nightly lineup will be anchored by Jay Leno's move to the 10 p.m. slot. "We have a sniper focus on 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. to drive a power audience flow, and our brand, which has a high-end comedy focus, will get reinforced by having Jay on at 10 p.m. and it completes the circle with Jimmy Fallon, Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Steve Carell and 'Saturday Night Live.'"