The broadcast networks appear to be warming up to one type of content in an attempt to stem ratings erosion: live programming.
“With viewers clamoring to watch their favorite shows on their own schedules, the networks are frustrated, advertisers are antsy and accurate ratings increasingly harder to calculate,” the Boston Herald reports. “Live TV might be the key to drawing viewers back to prime time on the network clock, and no one will test it more in the fall than NBC.”
The report notes that NBC is betting on the live variety hour “Best Time Ever,” to be hosted by Neil Patrick Harris. Meanwhile, NBC’s “Undateable,” which recently experimented with a live episode, will try out a live format for its entire third season, which debuts in fall.
“In what is becoming an annual tradition following successful stagings of ‘The Sound of Music’ and ‘Peter Pan,’ NBC plans to air a live version of ‘The Wiz’ in December with Stephanie Mills, the original Broadway Dorothy, as Aunt Em,” the report notes.
The network also has one long-running live success story, “Saturday Night Live,” which wrapped up season 40 this month.
Other networks have taken notice. “ABC’s ‘General Hospital’ recently aired two live episodes packed with terrific drama, direction and acting,” the story reports. “There were two shootings, one character died, another was wounded, and two of the least likely Port Charles residents married. Is this a way to save the soaps? Many daytime serials aired live through the 1960s. A live five-day-a-week show would be daunting yet could invigorate the genre.”