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Can NBC pull off a big “Event” every week?
The premiere of Monday’s mystery thriller “The Event” gave the network its most succeessful series launch in three years. Airing against heavy competition from ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” and CBS’ comedies, the show drew nearly 11 million viewers and a strong rating among the adult demographic.
“The Event” may have benefited from being the only serialized genre show on the broadcast schedule this fall, but similar shows (such as ABC’s “V” and “FlashForward”) demonstrated last year that early ratings spikes can quickly collapse if the show cannot continue meeting audience expectations on a high-concept premise.
To help solidify its launch, NBC is planning to re-air the show’s pilot on Saturday night. The network is also set to announce a special West Coast viewing of the pilot after ratings behemoth “Sunday Night Football” (available to 11% of the country).
NBC’s entertainment president Angela Bromstad said the network’s heavy marketing of the show will likewise continue — advertisements, booking the show’s talent on morning and late-night shows and sending additional episodes to critics. Industry insiders estimate NBC has spent about $15 million to market the show, not including its own valuable on-air exposure on programs such as “Sunday Night Football.”
“We’re still in launch mode,” Bromstad said.
As producers have pledged, the creative on the show will emphasize keeping the drama from frustrating viewers with too many mysteries.
“We want to have the show to be a thriller where you’re getting answers that resolve mysteries in each episode, that keep up a level of tension rather without being frustrating,” Bromstad said.
The stakes are high. NBC has sold the show to 200 countries — meaning the company stands to make a fortune if the series can survive.
A rival network executive gave NBC props for the show’s initial ratings, but added, “‘The Event’ is all about Week 3.”
“It was a solid opening for them, but several similar shows shows have opened well and faded quickly,” the executive said. “It’s ultimately not how many you get, it’s how many you can keep.”
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