Can NBC compete against ‘The Big Bang Theory’ with a comedy?

The juggernaut.

The ratings are officially in from Thursday night’s primetime lineup, and it’s (in a recurring theme) bad news for NBC. Despite being a critical favorite and a show with the added benefit of syndication, the season 6 premiere of “30 Rock” was down over 30% from the season 5 premiere. The show brought in just a 1.8 rating in the 18-49 demographic, and it also failed to reach 4.5 million viewers.

Considering the quality of the show was excellent, we really can’t attribute it to the writing, acting, or that people are burned out on Tina Fey. Instead, we have to look at the monster roaring over at CBS in “The Big Bang Theory.” For the past season and a half, the show has managed to devour “Community” (another incredibly high-quality show), and the show is no longer even on the schedule. To think, things could be even worse for Liz Lemon and TGS when “American Idol” premieres next week.

For some reason, NBC has still failed to grasp what is the real issue here — that there is no sense putting up one of your best comedies against one of the most-watched shows of television that also happens to be in the same genre. There are not many instances in which we would say this … but would it be better for the network to actually give up at 8:00 p.m. altogether?

A solution?

Last year, “30 Rock” fared pretty well (at least by network standards) airing at 10:00 p.m. Eastern against a lineup of dramas. It was a risky move for them to make, but it did end up paying off better than most of their recent attempts to air drama in the slot (see “Prime Suspect” or “The Firm,” which drew just a woeful 1.0 rating for its first episode at its normal time).

We really don’t actually see what harm it would do for NBC to go back to this model, except with “Community” not in the place of “Outsourced” from last season. It would give the Greendale Human Beings an opportunity to show try out a new time without having to worry about Dr. Sheldon Cooper, and it also puts “Rock” back in a space that it knows it can perform pretty well.

You also can look at demographics here — traditional comedies fare better earlier in the evening, and it always seemed a bit strange for “Community” to be the lead-off considering that it is the most postmodern show the network has.

As for what to do with the 8:00 p.m. Eastern slot, perhaps NBC should simply consider recycling repeats, or constructing some sort of hour-long “Parks and Recreation” block to give the show extra exposure. Typically you don’t want to see a network start a night with a repeat, but the only other feasible alternative the network has is scheduling a show that will not be damaged to much by “Big Bang’s” success.

What do you think NBC should do with their Thursday nights now that “The Firm” seems to be a flop?

Photo: NBC

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