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NBC’s Cleveland affiliate WKYC-TV raised a few eyebrows Thursday night when the station announced a fairly last-minute adjustment to its primetime lineup. In lieu of the regular 9-11 p.m. NBC fare — The Office, 1600 Penn and Law & Order: SVU — it put on a 20-year-old episode of Matlock.
Previously scheduled programming was displaced to Saturday night, though all but 1600 Penn was an encore.
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So why Matlock? WKYC president and GM Brooke Spectorsky tells The Hollywood Reporter that there’s a lot of lingering affection for the long-defunct legal drama.
“The Academy did snub Andy Griffith,” says Spectorsky. “We thought it would be a nice tribute.”
Griffith, who starred as a veteran criminal defense attorney on Matlock from 1986-95, was among the late actors to not make the Oscars’ In Memoriam reel Sunday, and his exclusion has been among the most debated.
Still, it comes as a rather unfortunate time for the NBC, which has seen its ratings struggle during midseason and fell behind Univision to fifth place during the February sweep. And while the move did not boost WKYC’s typical Thursday performance, it did see an uptick in one demographic.
STORY: CBS Wins February Sweep for First Time Since 1998; NBC Hits Historic Lows
The two-hour Matlock: The Legacy averaged a 1.12 rating with men 25-54, roughly even with NBC’s recent Thursday showings in the two-hour block. Spectorsky says it did do better than Cleveland ABC affiliate WEWS’ repeats of Scandal and Jimmy Kimmel Live!
WKYC plans to air Matlock: The Heist during the same time period next week, but there are no plans beyond that.
Despite the goodwill for Griffith and the show, Spectorsky chalks up the pre-emption as a fun experiment. He’s well aware that Matlock has very little recognition with younger viewers.
Email: Michael.OConnell@THR.com; Twitter: @MikeyLikesTV
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