NBC reality show nabs plum spot after game

NBC is giving unscripted series “The Voice” the plum spot after the Super Bowl in February.

The network has skedded a “special” one-hour episode for Feb. 5, with TV’s perenially most-watched program as its lead-in. “Voice” was always considered to have a good shot at the coveted timeslot considering NBC would want to maximize exposure for a series that has performed very well in its first month.

NBC has not yet determined whether the episode will function as a second-season opener or serve as a stand-alone showcase for the series. NBC announced a couple of weeks ago that the second season of “The Voice” would air on Mondays beginning in January.

Of course, NBC is making the announcement presuming there is an NFL season, which is currently jeopardized by a lockout. It is distinctly possible that, even if a strike is averted, there could be delays to the schedule that could push the big game deeper into February.

“There is no better showcase on television than to follow the Super Bowl, and we believe ‘The Voice’ is deserving of such high-profile exposure,” said NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt. “The attention-grabbing blind audition phase of ‘The Voice’ has mass appeal and will fittingly team up with the biggest sporting event of the year.”

Broadcasters have traditionally either used the Super Bowl to introduce a new series or give a lift to a relatively new show that’s already showing promise. Last year, Fox gave “Glee” a Super Bowl boost, and in 2010 CBS premiered unscripted series “Undercover Boss.” The last time NBC carried the Super Bowl, in 2009, workplace comedy “The Office” got an hourlong showcase.

Big-time football games have always proved a potent launching pad for new programs. Fox is using the penultimate game of the NFL postseason, the National Football Conference championship on Jan. 22, to launch the 11th season of megahit “American Idol.”

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