The Peacock network recently announced that it will air summer reruns twice a week of “Working,” “Law and Order,” “3rd Rock from the Sun,” and “Frasier.” NBC’s double-encore strategy, which begins June 1, aims to keep viewers in front of their TV sets during the historically low-rated season. (NBC’s average rating for last November’s sweeps was 10.3; for July just 7.3.) “Rather than throw on episodes from less successful shows or failed short-order series, we decided to give people popular shows they want,” says an NBC source.
TV experts agree that if networks air summer reruns, it makes sense to stock up with favorites. “A hit show that does a 20 rating with an original episode could potentially do a 12.5 in a rerun,” says Audrey Steele, a broadcast analyst for Saatchi and Saatchi. “But a show that normally does a 10 rating might only do a 3 in reruns, a much lower proportion of its normal audience.” Adds Steve Sternberg, senior partner at TN Media: “A double run of ‘Law and Order’ is still going to do better than anything else they have on as a repeat.”
Replaying the hits could solve NBC’s short-term ratings problems, but it may eventually hurt all the networks. “It ultimately ends up alienating viewers,” says Steele. “A repetitiveness in those shows drives the audience into cable and syndication.”