What started as another dip in the TV nostalgia pool has ended up making waves for NBC as most of its independently owned affiliates are pledging not to air Thursday night’s 30 Rock reunion.
The prime-time reunion, created by and starring the team behind the original NBC comedy mainstay, is scheduled to air Thursday night at 8PM ET/PT. It will be in major U.S. markets via the NBC owned stations and made available across other platforms.
The conceit of the episode is that it would double as a vehicle for the network’s upfront messages. In place of the NBCU extravaganza at Radio City Music Hall, which was scrubbed this year due to COVID-19, the idea was to use 30 Rock as a mechanism to highlight opportunities for advertisers in NBC programming. NBC is also convening an online “creativity summit” on Thursday, which will feature an early screening of the reunion hour for media buyers and press.
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Beyond the traditional linear opportunities for advertisers, NBCU is keen to promote Peacock, the ad-supported streaming service whose national debut is Wednesday. It will make the 30 Rock reunion available on Friday. Peacock has rubbed many affiliates the wrong way for months given its plan to stream late-night shows in prime time on the East Coast and also carry big-ticket sports events like an NFL playoff game. For many affiliates, the prospect of airing a full hour of promotion for not only NBCU cable networks like Syfy and USA but also for Peacock was unappealing. The fact that the hour is also advertising-free, amid a steep decline in ad spending hitting local broadcasters, also proved a deal-breaker for many affiliates.
Stations owned by Nexstar, Sinclair Broadcast Group, Tegna, Gray Television and other companies have all pledged not to air the show, though not 100% of their stations are part of the pullout.
The news was first reported by Vulture.
PR reps for several of the station groups reached by Deadline declined to comment.
NBC reps also did not have any comment on the situation.