NBC is getting a dose of reality, but this year the network is feeling it in the checkbook, Bill Carter reports in the New York Times.
NBC Universal Television Entertainment Chairman Jeff Gaspin tells Carter that the network is facing its programming troubles with clear eyes after years of cutting costs and trying to rework the economics of TV after its failed experiment moving late-night host Jay Leno to prime time.
“We’re being realistic about how much we need to spend," Gaspin said. "We’re being realistic about what our margin should be, or what our amount of loss should be. We’re being realistic about what it actually takes.”
That means NBC is paying for much buzzed-about pilots developed at studios other than its own, especially leaning toward projects from Warner Brothers Television Group, the article says. One pilot, J.J. Abrams’ "Under Covers," may have cost $10 million to produce and was costly to acquire.
But as for late night, Gaspin said he’s not worried about Leno’s recent ratings slide at "The Tonight Show." "I look at him compared to Letterman. He’s still got the same margin of victory.” As for Conan O’Brien, Gaspin says he doesn’t worry about him either because "he’s going to cable" after signing a deal with TBS. “Whereas if he was on Fox we’d all be, you know, what’s it going to do?”