NBC is betting that it has found its ratings savior in an actress who has been in hot demand in recent years, the New York Post reports.
The network is counting on Betty White to help turn around its prime-time ratings with "Off Their Rockers," a senior citizen-oriented variation on "Punk’d," the story says.
While the network hasn’t yet said when "Off Their Rockers" will join the regular schedule, NBC aired a sneak peak Monday night, drawing 12 million viewers, the story says. The preview aired after a birthday tribute to 90-year-old White, which drew 14 million viewers.
The two shows gave NBC its best numbers in years, excluding sports coverage, the story points out.
The strong turnout convinced the network to tweak its lineup for tonight (Friday, Jan. 20, 2012), when NBC will shove aside its regular lineup and air repeats of the two Betty White shows from 8-10 p.m.
Industry observers are comparing the network’s interest in White — whose appeal is especially strong with older viewers — to ABC’s focus on Regis Philbin back in 1999. Philbin’s work on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” is credited with helping to turn around ABC’s sagging ratings at that time.
Said Marc Berman of TV Media Insights: “No one person can turn around an entire network, but what I love about this is that, just a few years ago, NBC said it didn’t care about older viewers — and Betty White brought in 14 million viewers, many of whom were ‘older.’”