`Friends’ double-run debate

Feb 25, 2002  •  Post A Comment

As NBC contemplated renewing “Friends,” the network discussed the possibility of rebroadcasting each new episode next season in two different time periods within the same week.
The reason: To try to build a new night of series hits, according to NBC insiders.
While it seems clear that NBC talked out the plan internally, it’s less clear whether the idea ever entered the negotiations with the show’s production company, Warner Bros.
“The whole point of `Friends’ was not to come up with some new model, but to get the show back,” NBC Entertainment chief Jeff Zucker told Electronic Media.
Considering same-week repurposing of hit series is not as much an issue for NBC, he said, “because we have pretty good success in 18 of our 22 hours on the schedule.”
What does seem clear, however, is that NBC will try to increase ad prices on “Friends” significantly. NBC will pay about $6.5 million per episode in license fees next year.
Some executives inside the network are saying they want the ad sales team to push for national 30-second spots in “Friends” to go for a record-shattering $600,000-plus.
NBC’s asking price is currently in the $400,000 to $450,000 range. Buyers said they’ve bought some spots in the show this season for between $325,000 and $375,000 per :30.
“The street will decide what we get,” said one NBC executive, referring to the potentially record-breaking asking price. “But we are going to push hard, because we think we can get it,” one NBC executive said.
NBC also will bundle other less hard-to-sell or desirable programs and nights with “Friends” to push its entire schedule-which is a widely embraced industry practice.