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NBC’s programming refs have ruled that Jerry Seinfeld’s reality series has won a second season.
The network is picking up Thursday night unscripted comedy “The Marriage Ref,” along with two other freshman series — the game show “Minute to Win It” and “Who Do You Think You Are.”
The pickups represent NBC’s entire unscripted midseason lineup. Although the “Ref” pickup was considered probable, the announcement includes two surprising picks as “Minute” and “Who Do You Think” have performed modestly in the ratings.
“Ref” has boosted Thursday’s at 10 p.m. for NBC since the departure of “The Jay Leno Show,” helping the network maintain some competitiveness in the hour. The show is averaging 7.2 million viewers and a 3.0 rating in the adult demo once DVR use is added.
“It’s doing a good job for us. It’s certainly noisy. We’ve seen the show find its feet,” said Paul Telegdy, executive vp alternative programming at NBC. “We think its a show that’s improving, and we got high hopes for it.”
NBC has ordered three more episodes for this season and 13 for next. The network plans to continue evolving the show with formatting tweaks. “Ref” will likely return sometime next season.
“Minute” has been airing at 8 p.m. on Sundays, serving as a lead-in for “Celebrity Apprentice.” The show spiked to a higher-than-usual number when a repeat aired on Wednesday at 8 p.m., suggesting the show might improve in another time period. Ratings haven’t been hot, delivering 6 million viewers and a 2.0 in the slot.
“It’s a show that’s ignited traffic to NBC.com and created buzz in its own way,” Telegdy said. “It’s a utility player that can be used in a lot of different time periods and grows half-hour to half-hour.”
The network has picked up an additional 10 episodes, with some possibly airing in the summer.
“Who Do You Think You Are” from producer Lisa Kudrow has given NBC a lead-in for “Dateline” on Friday nights. The celebrity genealogy show has averaged 6.8 million viewers and a 1.6 rating. On Friday, “Who Do You Think” edged out CBS’ “Ghost Whisperer,” marking the first time a regular series has beaten the CBS veteran in that slot since 2006. NBC has ordered eight episodes for next season.
“It’s a quality show and surprisingly engaging,” Telegdy said.
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