NBC Pressing the Panic Button?

Sure looks that way if this report turns out to be true:

NBC is holding crisis meetings over the future of “Nightly News With Brian Williams” after rival ABC’s “World News Tonight with David Muir” scored a historic ratings win, the New York Post reports.

For the week of Sept. 29, ABC’s newscast scored an across-the-board win in total viewers — 8.4 million — as well as the golden demos, adults 25 to 54 and adults aged 18 to 49. NBC’s “Nightly News” trailed with 8.2 million viewers.

Sources tell The Post that after the release of the figures Tuesday, “the NBC News morning call was very somber. A meeting was held with the ‘Nightly News’ executive producer to try to motivate the staff. There will be further crisis meetings.”


I wrote about NBC’s declining fortunes almost exactly five years ago. Here’s the crux of what I said then:

By the turn of the century, the anchor programs of NBC’s Thursday nights (Friends, W&G, E/R) had all gone stale, and NBC had lost its nerve to take the risks necessary to develop and nurture fresh replacement shows. “Hill Street” was still going pretty strong at the end. “Cheers” went out on a high note. But “E/R” had been barely watchable for four or five entire seasons before NBC finally, mercifully pulled the plug.

NBC first forgot its brand, then it forgot how to compete. Now it’s losing to F/X, which I wasn’t even sure was a real network until just now.

That’s NBC’s entertainment division, but the NBC News division seems to be in just as much trouble. The entertainment side stopped taking risks on quality new shows, and the news division forgot how to develop new talent with appeal outside of MS/NBC’s core audience of lefties.


The time to panic was when Tim Russert passed away and there was nobody with even half his stature waiting in the wings as his replacement.

That was six years ago.


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