Jack Donaghy best explained NBC's current pickle best when he said:
"There are exciting times for NBC. Not Seinfeld, Friends, ER exciting. More like 3-D episodes of Merlin exciting."
Of course, that's 30 Rock's trademark bitter sarcasm. But in the real world, if "nail-bitingly worrying" means "exciting," than yes, it looks like NBC is facing some pretty exciting times. In this past year, nine shows have been canceled after failing to draw in viewers in the highly-coveted eighteen-to-forty-nine age demographic. Since the end of Friends in 2004, viewers have steadily been changing the channel away from NBC and, more likely than not, watching old episodes of Friends on DVD.
Ted Harbert, NBC's broadcasting chief, urged the industry to adopt a new system of ratings to include more days of DVR playback for those who don't watch NBC's shows live, but rather record them and watch later. (Oh, but Ted, you do realize that people DVR TV shows on… other stations than NBC, right?) But really, what is it about NBC that people find so repulsive? 30 Rock's season six premiere reported a record low 3.2 million viewers; season five premiered with 5.9 million.
A look at 2011's Nielsen ratings showed that not even one NBC program made it onto the top ten highest-rated list, a bleak sign for the channel. What I don't understand about all of this is how shows like Community, 30 Rock, and Parks and Recreation can have such a large (and incredibly strident) fan base online, and then have none of that translate into real-world ratings. Is it because all of you Redditors out there are torrenting these shows at the end of the season but refusing to watch them live? You can't bitch about "six seasons and a movie" and then only support the show through illegal piracy. That's just going to tip the ratings in favor of stuff your parents watch, like NCIS.
And by the way, fuck you, 30 Rock. I loved Merlin.