NBC U CEO Jeff Zucker has spent the last few weeks telling anybody who’d listen that the writer’s strike is giving NBC the chance to overhaul its business. In addition to learning to live without expensive scripted shows, Zucker has talked about dumping the expensive “upfront” party NBC puts on every year, and cutting back on the expensive pilots it buys for shows it never airs.
Give him credit for consistency: In a keynote to TV execs at the annual NATPE conference in Las Vegas, Jeff threw out the same arguments. He likened the strike to a “forest fire” for the TV business, which was wreaking devastation but sets “the stage for robust growth.” He said he’s unlikely to throw an upfront party, but will send NBC Entertainment co-presidents Ben Silverman and Mark Graboff to meet with big ad agencies. And he said he’s going to cut back on pilot orders for the NBC network, a la NBC U’s USA Networks: While NBC routinely orders a couple dozen each year and only makes a handful of shows, USA has ordered 5 pilots in the last 2 years, and has turned four of them into shows.
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