Alright Parks and Recreation fandom, please read what is below. I understand why everyone is so upset but this is kind of ridiculous. The media (vulture, tvline, huffington post) is being melodramatic about this whole thing. They are saying “hiatus” “pre-empted” and “replaced” when they should really be using words like “moved” “re-scheduled” and “changed.”
NBC has given no statement about this decision to move Parks and I want to offer a little insight that may give more perspective than the “Parks is dead” pandemonium that is happening right now. Here we go:
The first thing to remember is that NBC, just like every other network, is a business first and foremost. To make a business work you must find your customer base, the trends of those customers, and then try to make your product fit to the best of your ability. With NBC pulling Welcome to the Family they no longer have four shows that can fill up Thursday night at a higher rating than WTTF was preforming at. This means that they were faced with an ultimatum: air a repeat or find something new to fill the void. They decided to fill the void which is the right move. The last thing they would want to do is show a repeat that would promise them lower ratings for the night.
FIVE EPISODES FOR TEN SLOTS
With this decision comes a new problem, NBC only has five episodes of new programming where ten need to be. Do they pull Community or another new program off the shelf with no publicity leading up to it (if it is even ready) or do they find something else to go in the empty spots? NBC decided to make use of what they already have and allow for Community to gear up for its comeback. There are no other half hour shows at NBC’s disposal; they have to make use of their hour-long shows. The easiest ones that they can expand are The Voice and SNL – they are both shot live making it exceptionally fast and easy to tack on episodes. Three weeks of this programming will fill the void for six of those empty five slots.
THIS IS GOOD FOR PARKS
Much of the news today was very negative for Parks’ future and I was truly shocked by that. The media outlets that were reporting these “hiatus” and “pulling” stories obviously did not think out the reasons why NBC resorted to this option or what it will mean for Parks going forward. Hopefully the following reasons will help.
HALLOWEEN IS A HORRIBLE NIGHT FOR TV
Halloween isn’t going to be a big night for TV. People aren’t sitting around watching shows, they are out Trick or Treating or enjoying a scary movie. It is just like Valentine’s Day. People don’t watch TV on holidays unless it is a special or Thanksgiving football. NBC not airing Parks on Halloween saves them from another dismal showing on a holiday – remember that Emergency Response aired on Valentines last year and the whole night was down.
Now, there is this huge thing called November Sweeps. This period is from October 31 – November 27 this year. Basically, it is the time of year that Nielsen gets their most accurate view on ratings. Networks want “sweeps” times to be GIANT. NBC giving Parks and Recreation four episodes to air in this time period is huge. It is a vote of confidence in the show. Let’s analyze NBC’s November Sweeps Thursdays:
You never put a repeat of a show in primetime against new shows if you can avoid it. NBC pushing Parks allows them to get away with only one week of a repeat - The Voice. Then airing a special Halloween SNL will hopefully shield them from a declined Halloween night in ratings. Then The Voice will continue their November Sweeps for Thursdays with Parks picking up the next two. Parks’ winter hiatus will thus begin on November 21stbecause it is a Thursday show and it has the distinct pleasure of dealing with Thanksgiving.
The 100thepisode had to be pushed back to January because there are no longer any more Thursdays that NBC will be airing new programming in 2013. Five was an uneven number and with nothing to air next to it they didn’t have a choice. Plus this leaves them with 13 episodes to air in the spring. With Community coming back, NBC seems to want all their shows to have the same amount of episodes to air out in 2014. Thursdays will thus be Community, Parks and Recreation, Sean Saves the World, and The Michael J. Fox Show with no changes to that line-up (not guaranteed but entirely likely) because all four shows will have 13 episodes to air (MJF will likely get a 24 episode order).
PARKS IS COMING BACK IN JANUARY
Some of the articles I read today made reference to the idea that Parks’ return date was up in the air. This is completely false. Completely. NBC has released its schedule with aconfirmedreturn of Parks for its 100thepisode on January 3rdat 8:30pm, right after the return of Community.
As a viewer and fan, this sucks. As a business and network, this strategy is pretty darn solid. Heck, I would argue that this strategy is one of the best that NBC has come up with in a LONG time.
One final thing: Parks still has a lot going for it in terms of renewal for a 7th (full or shortened) season.
It is NBC’s highest rated comedy while up against the ratings giant that is TBBT. It is NBC’s youngest skewing show, and it is also the #1 show on all four networks in demo viewers living in $100k+ households. That means that they are hitting people that are young and have money – an ad buyers dream.
The cast has a lot of clout with the network and a heck of a 2014 roster that will likely bring them a lot of media attention. They also have the great pleasure of being very able to bring in quality guest stars which should never be discounted for the network’s sack. And never forget the critics. They have not gone anywhere and are still singing their praises.
Now there is the money issue – with Parks being in its sixth season, most of the upfront costs, the variable costs, are minimized (sets are built, contracts are inked) and now you are just left paying for the maintenance of the show, the fixed costs. Parks is now in syndication because of their episode count and NBC completely owns the show – unlike Community – meaning every dime they make off of it is solely their profit. With all of this, Parks and Recreation is likely the only scripted comedy (and one in maybe three scripted shows) that NBC is making a profit off of at this point.
Our Little Engine That Could is still chugging and is not slowing down.