What would stations do with more prime time?

Wayne Friedman writes for MediaPost that NBC’s Jeff Zucker is thinking that the number of hours produced by the network for the network might be going down. NBC hands affiliates 22 hours of prime time, while Fox offers only 15 (guess which network is tops?). Zucker thinks that fewer hours may give Fox an advantage.

But Friedman finds a fly in the ointment.

If NBC gives up any program time, it won’t exactly be good news for TV stations. Sure they’ll get to program what they want and keep all the advertising time. But the increasing downside is that programming will be even more expensive to produce and market.

Perhaps stations and syndicators should try and resurrect the 1990s one-hour weekly drama business of a few years ago, with a slew of new “Baywatch”s, “Star Trek”s, and “Xenia: Warrior Princess”s.

Many stations might also convince themselves that an extra-early evening hour — attached to their already lucrative 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. time slot (6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Central Time) — could be built for all-family TV shows. TV pressure groups have complained the networks have abandoned the early evening, so-called family hour. Still, convincing advertisers is another story.

I actually think such a move could be a windfall for local stations, depending on how they approached it. Local stations must continue to develop local programming, ‘lest they find themselves out in the cold when digital distribution makes them irrelevant for network-level scripted programs. An hour a day could help begin moving us in that direction.

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