Monday, December 14, 2009

Mother Zucker


I won't waste too much time with this.

Most people who look at NBC's abysmal ratings wonder how Jeff Zucker -- the one-time wunderkind turned apparent king of an on-air sewage dump -- has been allowed to keep his job. Sure to fuel that confusion and outrage is this headline:

Reuters: Jeff Zucker Quietly Signs 3-Year Deal To Continue as President and CEO of NBC Universal/12.11.09

The fact is this: Sure, NBC's ratings blow pretty much across the board; sure, it was mostly Zucker's idea to put Jay Leno on every weeknight at 10pm, killing that time slot for the network; sure, Zucker's had to appear before the public supposedly wringing his hands and sweating over NBC's consistent fourth place ranking among the major broadcast networks, something that a decade ago would've been unimaginable. But none of that matters, and the last point in particular is little more than Zucker playing a role -- pretending to give a shit that the quality of the programming on NBC is in the toilet these days. The reality is that the shareholders, for the most part, love the job Jeff Zucker is doing -- because they could care less whether NBC's putting decent stuff on the air or is the #1 network according to Nielsen. All they care about is what Zucker's great at: making money. Yeah, NBC sucks. So what? The corporate synergy and cross-pollination among NBC Universal entities that guys like me are always complaining about -- the fact that when you turn on one NBC show there's invariably some tie-in to, or outright promotion of, another NBC property so that eventually everything NBC Universal airs, on any network or any platform, is nothing but a commercial for something else NBC Universal owns or airs -- that's what matters. Because that's what makes money.

Quality? Ratings? Decent programming? Who gives a crap about that anymore?

Those concepts are so 2000.

As long as Zucker keeps bringing in the bucks -- keeps NBC Uni humming as one giant promotion machine -- he'll keep his job, regardless of whether you watch or are even aware of one damn show in NBC's prime time lineup.

9 comments:

Brian H said...

I can't tell you what NBC airs on nights that aren't Thursday, except that show where fat people lose weight and cry and stuff. But you're right that the ultimate measure is the return to the parent company. It'll be interesting to see what happens when reality TV implodes and NBC is left without anything in the pipeline suitable for syndication.

Harvey Jerkwater said...

The real-life Jack Donaghy is such a disappointment. I prefer the fictional one.

Plus, the fictional one has better hair.

kanye said...

So much for the "public" airwaves. The time is long past due to bring back the Fairness Doctrine.

Becky said...

As Jack Donaghy would say, "Synergy, Lemon. Synergy."

idiosynchronic said...

By total co-incidence, I stumbled across The Sing-Off on NBC. Not only is this the first thing I've watched on NBC in months, it's probably the first thing I've watched that's reality-based in at least a year. (sneaking peeks at Jersey Shore doesn't count).

Chez said...

You know what's interesting? The reason 30 Rock was kept on the air during those first couple of years that it wasn't drawing even a hint of an audience had everything to do with the fact that it was one giant promotion for NBC -- even if it did it under the guise of mockery. The suits at NBC don't care whether you're making fun of the fact that their network has become a massive commercial for other NBC corporate properties, as long as you're getting the names of the products right. And that's what 30 Rock does. Jack Donaghy may be a fictional character -- and a damn funny one -- but he really is representative of what NBC is all about these days.

Tabitha said...

The Office is the only good thing about NBC.

Chez said...

Really? I don't think The Office has been great since maybe the end of the second season (and the British version is 1000x better regardless). 30 Rock is NBC's one saving grace.

Tabitha said...

I haven't seen the British version yet, though I do intend to check it out one of these days. I do think The Office has slipped a bit this season. I love it all the same, but I have a feeling the show will end soon. 30 Rock's all right, but considering the immense talent that the cast has, it feels over-acted to me.