NBC Looking at ‘Watching’

Jul 21, 2006  •  Post A Comment

NBC is developing the failed WB pilot “Nobody’s Watching” for a shot on its own schedule after it found an audience on the online video sharing site YouTube.

“We’re continuing down the development path” with the project, NBC Entertainment President Kevin Reilly said at the network’s Television Critics Association executive press tour session Friday.

The pilot, which was initially developed by NBC’s sister production company NBC Universal Television Studio, will be in contention for NBC this development season, but the show’s creators are currently producing original online Web episodes starring the two “Watching” leads.

“Watching,” which profiles two slackers who unwittingly become the subjects of a reality show, appeared on YouTube earlier this year and gained an audience. No one at the network had a role in getting the episode put on YouTube, Mr. Reilly said, but he added that the network wants “to do more of this kind of thing. These are the kinds of things we’ve got to try.”

While online video sharing can play a role in helping networks test new product, issues of piracy are still important to NBC, he added.

Commenting on NBC’s decision to hold surprise game show hit “Deal or No Deal” until the fall, Mr. Reilly said the network “used a tremendous amount of restraint with not using it over the summer.” He added that the Fox summer reality offering “So You Think You Can Dance?” “would have been in far distant second place” if it had competed against “Deal.”

While he gave no apologies for scheduling “Deal” several times a week as part of a Sept. 18 season premiere launch, he said, “We would really like to avoid three times a week on a permanent basis.”

At this stage in the show’s life, the reality series “The Apprentice” will pull back its multiple installment scheduling strategy to a “one time, once-a-year event.”

The high school football drama “Friday Night Lights” is “not going to be the game of the week,” he said, noting in the reporter’s scrum after the session that female audiences will respond to the show, and that getting them to tune in is a “marketing responsibility” for the network.

One critic asked why NBC abandoned much of the midseason strategy it touted at its TCA session last January, centerd on the series “Four Kings,” “Heist” and the return of the first-season drama “E-Ring.”

Not getting a strong start in September hurt NBC during midseason, since it left the network unprepared to counterprogram against Fox’s “American Idol.”

“We’ve struggled because we haven’t had those shows in the fall, and it only gets worse in the spring,” he said.

NBC’s fall premiere schedule:

  • Monday, Sept. 18: 8 p.m. “Deal or No Deal” (two-hour premiere 8-10 p.m. ET); “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” (10-11 p.m.)

  • Tuesday, Sept. 19: “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” (9-10p.m.); “Law & Order: SVU” (10-11 p.m.)

  • Wednesday, Sept. 20: “The Biggest Loser” (8-10 p.m.), “Kidnapped” (10-11 p.m.)

  • Thursday, Sept. 21: “My Name Is Earl” (8-8:30 p.m.); “The Office” (8:30-9 p.m.); “Deal or No Deal (9-10 p.m.); “ER” (10-11 p.m.)

  • Friday, Sept. 22: “Law & Order” (10-11 p.m.)

  • Monday, Sept. 25: “Heroes” (9-10 p.m.)

  • Tuesday, Oct. 3: “Friday Night Lights” (8-9 p.m.)

  • Wednesday, Oct. 4: “Twenty Good Years” (8-8:30 p.m. and 8:30-9 p.m.)

  • Wednesday, Oct. 11: “30 Rock” (8:30-9 p.m.)

  • Friday, Oct. 20: “Crossing Jordan” (8-9 p.m.); “Las Vegas” (9-10 p.m.)