Will NBC see ratings gold in the fall?

Net bracing against letdown from Summer Games

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NBC is crowing that the 2008 Beijing Olympics is poised to become the most-watched event in U.S. television history. But even a promotional platform of this magnitude doesn't necessarily mean the upcoming crop of new NBC primetime series, heavily promoted during the Games, will see ratings gold in the fall.

Spots have been running for dramas "My Own Worst Enemy," "Crusoe" and the remake of "Knight Rider"; sitcom "Kath & Kim"; and the nonscripted "America's Toughest Jobs." The network also has been busy amply promoting the relaunch of "Chuck" and "Life" and other returning shows. But will the Olympics lead to ratings victory? If recent history is any indication, the answer is no.

Case in point: 2004's Summer Olympics from Athens, which was a resounding success per the Nielsen ratings, but only one of the five new shows launched that fall, "Joey," lasted past that first season. The "Friends" spinoff was put out of its misery midway through Season 2. New dramas "Hawaii," "LAX" and "Medical Investigation" and the animated "Father of the Pride" didn't get through the full season.

Four years earlier, NBC's "Ed" premiered right after the conclusion of the 2000 Sydney Games and lasted four seasons. But the small-town-based dramedy was never anything more than a marginal success, and the five other new series that fall failed quickly. Anyone remember "Cursed," "DAG," "The Michael Richards Show," "Titans" or "Tucker"? NBC had a better track record after the 1996 Atlanta Games, with three of its seven new entries -- "Suddenly Susan," "The Pretender" and "Profiler" -- lasting for four seasons. But those shows were never considered big hits, and the ax quickly swung on drama "Dark Skies" and sitcoms "Mr. Rhodes," "Men Behaving Badly" and "Something So Right."

The moral of the story: Not even a massive promo push via the Olympics will help if the show is not worth watching.
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