Challenge to keep Peacock strutting

Ancier looks to build net's laffer roster

He’s helped build two networks from the ground up, but now Garth Ancier is facing an even tougher challenge: Keeping an established web on top.

While NBC is still the clear Nielsen leader in the 18-49 ratings category advertisers most covet, the Peacock steadily has been losing viewers over the past two years. Ancier’s mission is to stop the erosion and, if possible, bring new viewers into the NBC fold.

The Peacock programmer’s first priority? “Finding that next generation of NBC hit shows,” Ancier says, adding that the network is most in need of new comedies.

Indeed, except for last season’s “Will & Grace,” NBC hasn’t had a true comedy success in years. Thus, since he arrived at NBC last May, Ancier has been busy inking deals with a slew of comedy producers and talent — pacts that will bring new sitcoms from the likes of former “Seinfeld” sidekick Michael Richards, “Spin City” co-exec producer Gary David Goldberg and “In Living Color” creator Keenen Ivory Wayans.

Along with NBC West Coast topper Scott Sassa, Ancier has promised to add some variety to the net’s laffer roster, which in recent years has been dominated by urban-set, workplace-based shows. A chief goal is finding one or two family-friendly comedies to take advantage of the gaping hole left by last May’s departure of ABC’s “Home Improvement.”

While Ancier hasn’t had much time to change NBC’s on-air product, he already has had luck transforming the net’s relationship with outside suppliers. Studios and other producers, who had been angered by previous Peacock execs’ efforts to have an ownership stake in all programs, say Ancier and Sassa have created a much friendlier business environment.