Comcast’s NBC Bets on Comedies to Lift Network From Last

NBC, last in total viewers among the major TV networks, announced seven new comedies next season, including “Animal Practice” and “Guys With Kids” from Jimmy Fallon, in the second full schedule under owner Comcast Corp.

NBC will air comedies four nights a week during the season starting in September, the New York-based network said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. Robert Greenblatt, chairman of NBC Entertainment, presents the full schedule today at Radio City Music Hall in New York.

The network made a conscious decision to develop more comedies as the genre proved in recent years to attract big audiences, Greenblatt said in an interview yesterday. NBC needs to bolster a prime-time lineup that averages a third fewer viewers than leader CBS, according to Nielsen data. Older shows such as “30 Rock” and “The Office” anchor NBC’s comedy line-up.

“The more comedy, the better,” Greenblatt said. “We’re in a process of re-invigoration. You’ll see more comedy development from us this season and next season.”

Other comedies joining the schedule include “Go On,” with Matthew Perry as a sportscaster, and “The New Normal” from “Glee” creator Ryan Murphy, NBC said in the statement. Mid-season sitcoms include “1600 Penn,” “Save Me” and Dane Cook’s “Next Caller.”

“The Voice,” the network’s most popular program after “Sunday Night Football,” will start on Mondays in September, with an additional hour of the show airing on Tuesdays.

$1.66 Billion Commitment

NBC will collect $1.66 billion in ad commitments for next season, the least of the big four, Spencer Wang, an analyst at Credit Suisse in New York, estimated in a May 11 report.

The network renewed “The Office,” “Smash,” “Grimm” and “Whitney,” NBC said. Critically acclaimed comedy “30 Rock” with Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin will enter its seventh and last season. “Bent,” “Are You There, Chelsea?” and “Awake” were canceled.

“Guys with Kids” follows men in their 30s who struggle as parents because they are still children at heart. The show features Zach Cregger, Jesse Bradford and Anthony Anderson, along with Jamie Lynn Sigler of “The Sopranos.” In “Next Caller,” Cook plays an alpha-male DJ who hosts a show on satellite radio with a feminist co-host.

“1600 Penn,” about a first family living in the White House, stars Bill Pullman and Jenna Elfman, while “Animal Practice” features Justin Kirk of “Weeds” as a veterinarian who loves animals more than their owners.

Network Lineups

The networks are releasing their 2012-2013 schedules in so-called upfront meetings with advertisers to book advance commitments for the new season. News Corp.’s Fox releases its lineup today, while Walt Disney Co.’s ABC unveils its plans tomorrow. CBS Corp., owner of the most-watched TV network, will reveal its prime-time changes on May 16.

NBC, while last in the Nielsen ratings, is the only major network to lift its total audience this season and add viewers ages 18 to 49, the group prized by marketers. Its February Super Bowl telecast drew a record 111.3 million viewers.

The network has averaged 7.43 million total viewers a night in prime time this season, 4.6 percent more a year ago, and 3.2 million viewers in the demographic, a 4.2 percent increase, according to Nielsen data.

“Sunday Night Football” and “The Voice” are NBC’s only top 10 shows in 18 to 49, according to Nielsen data.

The network invested heavily in promoting “Smash” and “Whitney” before the shows started in January. “30 Rock” will end after 13 episodes, NBC said. The show won the Emmy award for best comedy series in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

J.J. Abrams, Dick Wolf

“Community,” the low-rated, critically acclaimed comedy series starring Joel McHale and Chevy Chase as community college students, was given a 13-episode order.

NBC also ordered dramas “Revolution” from J.J. Abrams and “Chicago Fire,” from Dick Wolf, creator of the network’s “Law & Order” franchise. “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” starring Mariska Hargitay, will return for a 14th season. The network will also bring back “Parenthood” for a fourth season.

New mid-season dramas include “Do No Harm,” about a brilliant neurosurgeon played by Steven Pasquale with a dangerous alter-ego that threatens his personal and professional life. The network ordered “Hannibal” and “Infamous,” where an undercover detective infiltrates a wealthy family as the maid’s daughter to solve the murder of an heiress.

New reality shows include “Stars Earn Stripes,” “Howie Mandel’s White Elephant,” “Ready for Love,” and “Surprise with Jenny McCarthy,” NBC said in the statement. The network also renewed “The Celebrity Apprentice,” “Fashion Star,” “The Biggest Loser” and “Betty White’s Off Their Rockers.”

“Dateline NBC” and “Rock Center with Brian Williams” will return next season, the network said.

Comcast, based in Philadelphia, fell 0.8 percent to $29.38 on May 11 in New York. The stock has climbed 24 percent this year before today.

NBC FALL 2012-2013 SCHEDULE (New programs in caps. All times New York.)

Monday 8-10 p.m. - “The Voice” 10-11 p.m. - “REVOLUTION”

Tuesday 8-9 p.m. -“The Voice” 9-9:30 p.m. - “GO ON” 9:30-10 p.m. - “THE NEW NORMAL” 10-11 p.m. - “Parenthood”

Wednesday 8-8:30 p.m. - “ANIMAL PRACTICE” 8:30-9 p.m. - “GUYS WITH KIDS” 9-10 p.m. - “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” 10-11 p.m. - “CHICAGO FIRE”

Thursday 8-8:30 p.m. - “30 Rock” 8:30-9 p.m. - “Up All Night” 9-9:30 p.m. - “The Office” 9:30-10 p.m. - “Parks and Recreation” 10-11 p.m. - “Rock Center with Brian Williams”

Friday 8-8:30 p.m. - “Whitney” 8:30-9 p.m. - “Community” 9-10 p.m. - “Grimm” 10-11 p.m. - “Dateline NBC”

Saturday Encore programming

Sunday (Fall 2012) 7- 8:15 p.m. - “Football Night in America” 8:15-11:30 p.m. - “NBC Sunday Night Football”

Sunday (Post-football) 7-8 p.m. - “Dateline NBC” 8-9 p.m. - “Fashion Star” 9-10 p.m. - “The Celebrity Apprentice” 10-11 p.m. - “DO NO HARM”

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