NBC drops traditional TV season

January 15, 2004

NBC said last week it will shake up the long tradition of the “television season” by beginning a slate of new shows before Labor Day, just after completion of the Summer Olympics.

The network will finish the first run of its new shows in late April, instead of stretching them through May, when Nielsen Media Research declares the official television season over. The network’s decision to ignore Nielsen’s official start date for the season, which generally is in the third week of September, could be the beginning of the end of the annual network ratings championship.

At a news conference, Zucker said it was not up to him to “pronounce that the fall TV season as we know it is dead.” But he noted, “We’re in a time in television where very few of the old rules apply.”

NBC’s decision pits the network’s new program rollout directly against the Republican National Convention, scheduled for that same week. Zucker said that NBC News, which he also oversees, intended to cover the convention but might start its coverage at 10 p.m.

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