To date, NBC has won (or tied for No. 1) seven out of the past eight weeks, led eight consecutive Mondays in the coveted 18-49 demo and done the same for six straight Tuesdays. The network’s most recent superlative is no less than its first November sweeps win in nine years (averaging a 2.8 rating to runner-up CBS’ 2.4).
That said, buoyed as it has been by The Voice (a dominant force on Mondays and Tuesdays) and the freshman hit Revolution (which has outrated time slot rivals Castle and Hawaii Five-0 in every face-off to date and at last count swelled to a 4.6 rating with Live+7 DVR playback), NBC knows a downturn is unavoidable, as both of those shows sign off for more than three months following their respective Season 3 and fall finales (airing Dec. 18 and Nov. 26).
“I do know that we’re going to drop,” NBC Entertainment chief Robert Greenblatt told TVLine during a Tuesday conference call.
In addition to The Voice going silent and Revolution powering down until March 25, “There are some big competitive things coming, with [Season 12 of Fox’s] American Idol and the Super Bowl [airing on CBS],” Greenblatt noted. “So we expect a pretty significant leveling of the playing field.
“But we knew that going in,” he stressed, “so to start out this strong [in the fall] feels like a big accomplishment. We’re going to stay the course and do our best, and once we get into March I think we’ll be back in the game in a big way.”
Assuming that the audience for any new cycle of a reality competition is more or less a constant — though The Voice will be changing up its coaches — NBC biggest nut to crack is the reboot of Revolution after a four-month break, which the creators of similar genre-TV series such as V and FlashForward can tell you is no easy feat.
To that end, Greenblatt says there are tentative plans to keep the Revolution alive during the winter via “original content” on digital platforms. “It’s important to not let it completely go away and then start from scratch again” in March, he explained. He also foresees a meaty marketing push come spring.
But the biggest bid to retain the adventure-drama’s Live+7 audience of 12 million weekly viewers may rest on the storytelling itself. “The first episode back… is a big episode that completely turns the story in a really significant way,” the exec shared. “It kind of sends the second half of the season off on a new trajectory.”
Defending the decision to bench Revolution for so long a stretch, Greenblatt contended that it’s in the best interests of the buzzy hit, which might have languished in a sadder way leading out of The Voice‘s Monday replacement, The Biggest Loser (which returns the first week of January).
“One of the reasons why we wanted to hold it back is because it would again be paired up with a really strong lead-in,” he said. Besides, the production schedule for a large-scale, location-driven and at-times effects-heavy drama would have dictated multiple interruptions anyway. “It would have been two on, two off… one on, two off… an erratic schedule, and that’s just as difficult for an audience to follow. So I guess it’s going to follow more of a [split] cable season [schedule], and hopefully we’ll come back strong.”
Do you credit NBC with a comeback this fall? Do you suspect that Season 4 of The Voice (with its tweaked cast) and the back half of Revolution‘s maiden voyage could hit a snag?