How John Davis' 'Blacklist' Gave NBC a Boost

Courtesy of MBC
James Spader in 'The Blacklist'

The show has averaged a weekly audience of 12 million, prompting the prolific producer to imagine a 'Blacklist' spinoff as his next series.

This story first appeared in the Dec. 25 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

The Blacklist's effect on NBC cannot be overstated. The biggest hit of the 2013-2014 season, the James Spader drama boosted the network's previously lackluster ratings and, along with The Voice, pushed it to No. 1 among the Big Four. Its crew very likely boasts more behind-the-scenes Johns — EPs Davis, Fox, Eisendrath and [Jon] Bokenkamp — than any other show on TV, and it has revived the long-dead "Must See TV" catchphrase. When it moved to Thursday, The Blacklist doubled its showing with DVR views and now averages a 3.0 rating among adults 18-to-49, with a weekly audience of 12 million. "The only way to reinvigorate [Thursday] night is by jump-starting it," NBC Entertainment chief Robert Greenblatt said earlier in the year, acknowledging the risks of moving the show from its Monday roost.

NBC's play seems to have paid off. The Blacklist's time slot heir, Blindspot, isn't just a clear tonal cousin — it's validated the network's magic pitch words ("It's like The Blacklist …") by becoming the biggest premiere of the fall. Davis, whose other TV projects include NBC's The Player and ABC sitcom Dr. Ken, imagines the next Blacklist series could be a spinoff. Though NBC brass have been mum on the subject, and even Davis admits it's too soon to say, it would certainly be in line with the network's strategy of going with what works.

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