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NBC Schedules 18 Pilots For Fall 2010, Hopes For a Hit

sg_nbcNBC is not going to take it anymore. The long suffering and last ranked network in prime-time viewing will increase production of new shows in order to reverse seven straight years of declining ratings. NBC is now planning to spend more on projects matching levels seen in 2003.  The network has 18 pilots scheduled for the fall season kicking off in September. In 2009, NBC only had 11 pilots.

“In success we became used to making fewer and fewer pilots,” says Angela Bromstad, president of prime-time entertainment. “We have to take more swings, take more shots creatively, and have more back-up.”

The exec went to say that more new shows increases the odds of developing hits. NBC reduced development when their ’90s prime-time gems Seinfeld and Friends topped ratings, which left the network in a bind without enough material after the retirement of those shows.

NBC’s prime-time audience is headed for an eighth straight decline after it moved Jay Leno to 10 p.m., replacing costly scripted programs. Through Dec. 27, average viewership declined 1.2 percent from a year earlier. In the 18- 49 age group targeted by advertisers, the audience has dropped 8 percent, according to data from researcher Nielsen Co.

“With rival broadcast networks riding a relatively high number of new hit shows premiering last fall, NBC appears to have the unenviable task of having to reprogram well over 20 percent of its prime-time schedule for next season,” said Tuna Amobi, an analyst with Standard & Poor’s.

Leno’s one-hour show takes up five hours of the weeknight schedule, which will allow Bromstad to focus on the left over 10 hours from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.

“We have so many holes that we have to essentially rebuild the schedule,” said Bromstad. “Not having the additional five hours has certainly relieved some of the pressure.”

NBC’s new shows will consist of 10 hour-long dramas and eight 30-minute comedies for the next season. During this time of economic uncertainty, the struggling network will spend less on each pilot and will continue to keep costs steady.

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