NBC rolls out 6 new shows in bid to rescue ratings

Mon May 4, 2009 4:32pm EDT
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By Paul Thomasch

NEW YORK (Reuters) - In need of a fresh hit, NBC on Monday rolled out six new prime-time series for the upcoming television season, anchored by the lighthearted family drama "Parenthood," a remake of the popular 1989 hit film.

NBC Universal's flagship TV network, NBC, is counting on the lineup of four new dramas and two comedies to rescue its low-rated prime-time schedule. NBC regularly trails rivals CBS, Fox and ABC in the prime-time audience ratings that help determine where advertisers spend their money.

Angela Bromstad, the president of NBC's prime-time entertainment division, said the current lineup featured some of TV's highest-quality shows, but acknowledged the network needed some fresh, breakout hits.

"It's absolutely critical that we bring in new hits to support those programs," she said.

In addition to "Parenthood" -- produced by Ron Howard, who directed the big-screen version 20 years ago -- NBC unveiled two medical dramas, "Trauma" and "Mercy," as well as "Day One," set in the aftermath of a global catastrophe.

NBC took the wraps off its new shows two weeks before the other major networks, though it will not announce its precise schedule -- assigning time slots for its returning and new programs -- until May 19.

Once the four major networks announce their schedules, negotiations with advertisers will begin over roughly $9 billion worth of commercial time. This year, perhaps more than ever, the networks will be praying for breakout hits.

Because of the recession, ad dollars have dried up. That has created a headache for a TV business still trying to cope with the spread of digital video recorders, which allow viewers to fast-forward through commercials. Competition from iPods, video games and websites like Facebook has not helped.   Continued...

<p>A worker takes a break from setting up the NBC Universal booth at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, January 7, 2009. REUTERS/Rick Wilking</p>