Maybe it's a coincidence that NBC chose the day of Emmy nominations to announce the casting of singer Sara Bareilles as the third judge on unscripted series "The Sing-Off." Or maybe the network is hoping Emmy hoopla will overshadow a bungled opportunity to revitalize a property that needed a shot in the arm in order to compete in a critical time slot.
NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt surprised many by drafting "Sing-Off," which had performed respectably when scheduled multiple nights per week in the not-quite-competitive month of December, and turn it into a two-hour building block on the fall schedule. He acknowledged during a press conference ahead of its upfront presentation in May that the network was looking to bring in a big name to join the judges and spark some fresh interest in the show.
That was the right idea, but what happened to the execution? Bareilles is the farthest thing from a household name, and neither are returning judges Ben Folds and Shawn Stockman. She's replacing Nicole Scherzinger, who's off to a show that understands the power a provocative figure can singlehandedly bring to a show: Fox's "The X Factor."
Had NBC been able to draft someone the caliber of Christina Aguilera, who has certainly been a draw on "The Voice," this series might have actually had a chance to get some fresh eyes.
Now NBC looks more vulnerable than ever in a two-hour block on Monday (beginning Sept. 19), which will undoubtedly weaken a pretty high-profile launch at 10 p.m., "The Playboy Club." Given how much firepower the Peacock's rivals are bringing to the night, between Fox's "Terra Nova" to ABC's "Dancing With the Stars," maybe this is just the Peacock lying down and playing dead rather than investing in a night on which they can't put up a fight.
And if the NFL gets its act together in time for ESPN to kick off "Monday Night Football," it will be all the more appropriate that NBC has elected to punt.