As such, the division decided that a shakeup is in order. According to The Wall Street Journal, NBC Universal plans to cut about 700 positions, which would represent 5% of the current employee count and save about $750 million in the next couple of years. In addition, NBC is putting its faith in unscripted programming for many of its 8 p.m.-9 p.m. prime-time slots. The powers that be call this strategy "NBCU 2.0." How hip, huh?
Although the fourth quarter is expected to show profit growth, NBC Universal is spoiling GE's results right now, so it has no choice but to take drastic steps to find a catalyst or two for itself. Layoffs are always difficult and unwanted, but the hope is that efficiencies will be discovered to help the media unit thrive through tough times at its broadcasting and movie operations.
The question on many a pundit's mind is whether unscripted television is the right way to go. Shows like Deal or No Deal and 1 vs. 100 represent interesting programming, and they're cheaper than a series that requires storytelling via scripted dialogue. Economy becomes the driving force in this decision. But will quality and diversity -- and thus, in theory, ratings -- suffer as a result?
I don't necessarily have a problem with NBC increasing the number of unscripted programs on its airwaves. I do, however, have a problem with its being forced to explore one narrow option of engaging an inexpensive format. As some have pointed out, Disney's
How about not giving in to expensive producer demands? How about keeping an eye on the value of the contracts to talent? If networks like CBS
All of this is probably a pipe dream on my part. For now, we'll have to settle for more cheap game shows and reality programs. I just hope NBC doesn't overdo it, Millionaire-style. We'll have to see how NBCU 2.0 ultimately pans out, and whether the company should have said "No deal!"
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