Introduction to Popular Culture Studies

NBC’s Big Mistake(s)

Posted by Drake Kizer on February 22, 2017

Today’s readings were a selection of essays that proved to be very intriguing. I noticed on the syllabus that they were all listed under a new heading: “The Value of Media Engagement.” To me, that signaled a shift in our class’s focus, and if these essays are any indication, then I am looking forward to what’s ahead, because they were very interesting to read. There were actually 7 pieces in total to read, but the best one of them all was Sheila Murphy Seles’s “Chuck Vs. Leno.”

Firstly, Seles chose a fantastic title for her essay, because based on nothing else but that, I was drawn to her piece before any of the others on the list. I knew Chuck was a show on NBC, Leno was a popular NBC talk show host, and the idea of some sort of competition between these two entities intrigued me greatly. Seles opened by describing how fans of Chuck literally saved the show by buying Subway foot-longs. That was very confusing to me, but after figuring out that NBC valued turning “fan loyalty into real dollars” for sponsors, I began to understand the value of media engagement.

Seles then went on to describe NBC’s failed experiment with Jay Leno. The company essentially “[replaced] an hour of scripted programming every weeknight with a talk show hosted by Jay Leno” so that the company could make a lot more money for itself. A talk show is very inexpensive to produce and has loads of product placement that sponsors line up for, so it can make more money than scripted shows “even without high ratings.” Consumers saw right through the company’s plot to create low-effort content, though, and the company had to eventually abandon it, even though they were raking in money. This example shows that if media producers would stop trying to come up with convoluted plots in order to turn a profit, and actually focused on creating quality content that consumers crave, regardless of the cost, then they would be much better off overall.


One Response to “NBC’s Big Mistake(s)”

  1. jacobkaraglanis said

    I personally enjoy what the tried to do with Jay Leno’s night show. I enjoyed that they were able to take a less serious programming an profit off of it. I personally find it to be incredibly smart on there part too, because they took advantage of a great chance for making money, which I’m always a fan of!

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