Move out of midseason has its setbacks

Can “The Voice” sing in fall?

With its Gotham upfront less than a month away and NBC entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt looking to impress the advertising community with a healthy new season, the Peacock appears poised to make it happen.

Fueling that notion: Auditions are already under way, having begun much earlier than they would if a midseason launch was planned, as for the current season.

The question was asked at the network’s summer press day last week. The only response came from host Carson Daly, who said: “I think at this point, we on the production side are all ready to go and excited by it. The truth is it’s really a call from the network that we haven’t gotten yet, but we, obviously, would be thrilled by that.”

NBC would not comment on whether the show’s fall move is a fait accompli.

“It’s a tough question,” said SNL Kagan TV broadcast analyst Deana Myers. “The move would mean they are not battling ‘American Idol’ anymore, but at the same time, they’d be up against all the network debuts.”

The upside of a fall shift would be the possibility of greater upfront dollars from the ad community for NBC’s highest-rated primetime entertainment series.

Featuring a panel of judges — Blake Shelton, Christina Aguilera and Adam Levine — who are more relevant to the 18-34 community than the “American Idol” troika of Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler, the performance shows for “The Voice” are averaging a 6.6 Nielsen rating/17 share in adults 18-49 and 17.1 million viewers overall (an average that’s inflated since it includes the premiere that aired following the Super Bowl).

“The Voice” began in its 8-10 p.m. Monday timeslot Feb. 6 with a healthy 6.7 rating/17 share and 17.8 million viewers overall tuning in. The numbers have been steadily dropping, however. This past Monday it hit a series low of 3.7/10 in the demo and just over 10 million viewers — settling for a close second on the night in 18-49 to CBS’ “Two and a Half Men” after leading all Monday series earlier this year.

A 9 p.m. Tuesday results show has aired only three times thus far, averaging a 3.4 rating in 18-49 — well above what the net was doing with “The Biggest Loser” in the timeslot this season.

There are legitimate reasons for the falling Monday “Voice” numbers: longer daylight hours and warmer weather than usual around the country mean less television being viewed overall, and the show now goes head to head against ABC’s reality stalwart “Dancing With the Stars” on both Monday and Tuesday.

Whatever the reason, the declining ratings may force NBC to rethink the show’s fall shift. But with many moving parts already in motion, that may not be possible. While “The Voice” would have a built-in following if it moved to fall, it would face not only new series competition but possibly a Britney Spears-fueled “The X Factor” from Fox that could dilute the audience for NBC’s singing competition series, even if the two series don’t air on the same night.

If “The Voice” returns in early 2013, however, it would once again air during the same time frame as the fading but still formidable “American Idol.”

What Greenblatt and alternative topper Paul Telegdy are thinking is that three hours of “The Voice” will take the pressure off NBC’s development slate, and the show could also be used as a promotional tool for new Peacock skeins. And while “The Voice” may not garner a huge rating number, it would likely be higher than what a freshman series could bring in.

“It really depends on their development and what they plan to air in the fall,” TV analyst Shari Anne Brill said with regard to where “The Voice” should go. “It would be a shame, though, to burn out something so quickly. ‘The Voice’ has really rescued them in the spring, and if NBC can be propped up by NFL football in the fall, why can’t ‘The Voice’ do that for them in the spring?”

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more
Post A Comment 0