Friday, April 21, 2006

NBC's "Celebrity Cooking" Ratings Meltdown

When Sean "Diddy" Combs and two other producers presented the executives who purchase programming at NBC the idea for a celebrity cooking challenge program, the NBC network executives loved the idea. They authorized the program project to build a giant set, and spent a good two weeks to promote the big promised one week event. But as soon as the event actually kicked off it quickly fell flat in ratings and was cancelled after just three episodes.

NBC will air the final two episodes online if anyone even cares.

What went wrong? For one thing NBC had a major proven major hit in DEAL OR NO DEAL. This program has proven itself to be one of the most popular programs worldwide. The American version of DEAL OR NO DEAL with Canadian born comic, Howie Mandel, has proven to be NBC's most popular program this season. A recent episode garnered 17.7 million viewers, and no recent episode has fallen below 13 million viewers. This is even stronger ratings than LAW AND ORDER:SVU, ER or MY NAME IS EARL, the other most popular NBC programs.

The disasterous ratings for CELEBRITY COOKING SHOWDOWN were hardly much better than the very weak ratings for WB's ONE TREE HILL of just 2.8 million viewers. NBC simply threw away millions of viewers who they could have attracted with new episodes of DEAL OR NO DEAL or other normal NBC programming. Last night, NBC decided that repeat episodes of WILL AND GRACE and MY NAME IS EARL were certainly better bets to air than the new episode of CELEBRITY COOKING SHOWDOWN which cost NBC so dearly in this week's ratings. A repeat of DEAL OR NO DEAL airs tonight at 8pm to replace the scrubbed episode of the failed cooking competition program.

There appeared to be very little interest in the cooking competition as a program to the viewing public. NBC radar failed to pick up on this. Normally NBC relies on opinion polling to help guide their programming options, but apparently did not bother to gauge opinion before this turkey was allowed to develop into more than just some bad idea. NBC in the past has sent surveys to me to help guide them, but I received nothing before NBC went ahead with this awful program.

It also appeared that so-called "celebrities" such as Tom Arnold appeared to be little of a draw to the average NBC viewer as well. And the loyal audience of 13 million viewers who love DEAL OR NO DEAL or other NBC programming rebelled by turning their TV sets to better programming on CBS or other channels.

Like the quickly failed NBC program, HEIST, which was a major disappointment that failed to live up to all the hype, CELEBRITY COOKING SHOWDOWN was a real disaster of disappointing programming that only took the viewer a few minutes to decide that they didn't like at all.

The lesson in all of this is that you cannot expect an audience of TV viewers to watch terrible garbage and not rebel. With a multiple of channels, TV is a great democracy where the bad programs face a stiff rejection in this great marketplace of ideas and concepts.

Long live democracy.


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