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Author Topic: Why was NBC in the toilet in the late '70s?  (Read 2340 times)

roadman

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Re: Why was NBC in the toilet in the late '70s?
« Reply #25 on: October 07, 2019, 01:11:26 PM »

This thread reminds me of an early SNL skit titled 'Jeopardy 2020'.  When given the answer "Baa Baa Black Sheep", Chevy Chase replied "What's the longest running show in television history?"
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Re: Why was NBC in the toilet in the late '70s?
« Reply #26 on: October 07, 2019, 01:15:09 PM »

I remember in the early '80s, CBS had a spin-off of 'The Jeffersons' that lasted something like 3 episodes.
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Re: Why was NBC in the toilet in the late '70s?
« Reply #27 on: October 07, 2019, 01:15:44 PM »

I remember in the early '80s, CBS had a spin-off of 'The Jeffersons' that lasted something like 3 episodes.
Spin-off of spin-off...
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Re: Why was NBC in the toilet in the late '70s?
« Reply #28 on: October 07, 2019, 01:17:31 PM »

There was also a sitcom called 'Maggie' that my parents absolutely hated. It lasted something like 5 episodes. I think it was on ABC though.

The only thing I remember about it is a particularly gruesome scene where the kid on the show got his face bashed in with a bat.
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Re: Why was NBC in the toilet in the late '70s?
« Reply #29 on: October 07, 2019, 01:36:25 PM »



So the name of Freddie Silberman comes up.  A self-declaired super genius, he first world at CBS, and started the “rural purge” where he, as the saying goes, “cancelled everything with a tree in it”.  Replacing country oriented shows like Beverly Hillbillies and Hee Haw, with newer shows set in cities, with heavy political themes.  CBS was #1 before him, and #1 after, but he got the credit anyway.

Moved to ABC, the eternal #3, as noted above.  Here he actually was successful.  Sensing the public being tired of being preached at, he turned ABC into the home of thought free TV shows like Happy Days, Love Boat, and Charlie’s Angels. 

Don't forget some successeful Happy Days spin-offs like Laverne & Shirley, Mork & Mindy.  When they was at the top, they borrowed Orleans' song "Still the one" as their slogan.

As for the "rural purge", funny then CBS bring shortly after The Waltons. As for Hee Haw, it was made in syndication until 1993!

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« Reply #30 on: October 07, 2019, 01:51:54 PM »

Here goes.  From the beginning of TV through about the early 70s, for complex political and insider business reasons, ABC was the weak sister among the three networks.  Absent in many smaller markets, on UHFs or rimshots in other markets, or simply the third station to come to town with people set in their ways in viewing habits. 

Certainly the case in Lexington. We got the NBC (18) and CBS (27) affiliates over-the-air. Could not pick up the ABC affiliate (WBLG, as it was called then, Channel 62) and still couldn't get it when it switched to Channel 36 and became WTVQ. Only when we got cable could we get it. And for years, our cable system offered five channels -- the three network affiliates in Lexington, KET, and WTBS. The cable system we had out in the country didn't even start carrying the Fox affiliate (56) until years after it started. It was well into the popularity of The Simpsons before my dad could get Fox.
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Re: Why was NBC in the toilet in the late '70s?
« Reply #31 on: October 07, 2019, 02:12:03 PM »

WTNH-TV (ABC) channel 8 of New Haven has often been the #3 station in Hartford/New Haven, despite being a VHF station like WFSB-TV (CBS) channel 3 of Hartford. WFSB-TV was also the de-facto CBS station for Springfield, MA at the time. The same would eventually apply to WTIC-TV (FOX) channel 61 of Hartford and its 5 million watt analog signal. (Springfield now has "CBS 3", a low-power digital station programmed by WFSB-TV and "FOX 6", which is really WGGB-TV channel 40-2.)
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Re: Why was NBC in the toilet in the late '70s?
« Reply #32 on: October 07, 2019, 03:06:43 PM »

Here goes.  From the beginning of TV through about the early 70s, for complex political and insider business reasons, ABC was the weak sister among the three networks.  Absent in many smaller markets, on UHFs or rimshots in other markets, or simply the third station to come to town with people set in their ways in viewing habits.

This weakness meant that producers only offered their third rate shows to ABC.  The best shows were on CBS or NBC.

ABC and Dumont had similar problems, especially with money or the lack thereof.  They also were "drop-in" networks in the days when most markets had only one or two stations, with one carrying NBC and the other CBS.  Those two stations just took what they thought were the best shows from ABC and Dumont and fit them in during mid-afternoon or late-night times, on poor quality kinescopes.

What saved ABC was their 1953 merger with United Paramount Theaters, which had been split from Paramount Studios a year or so earlier.  That merger was also the beginning of the end for Dumont due to Paramount Studios owning a stake in the Dumont Corporation.  Dumont cancelled all of its entertainment programming in 1955, and finished up its sports commitments the next year.

Ironically, although it took another three decades to happen, today's Fox network is the direct descendant of Dumont.  Company founder Alan Dumont was fired by new stockholders in 1958, the company was reorganized into Metromedia, adding a few more stations along the way, and then sold to Rupert Murdoch in 1985.  Murdoch started Fox with those ex-Metromedia stations, gradually building the network.

Quote
By that time, new station licenses and the advent of the first forms of cable (CATV) had brought ABC to equality. 

It helped, but ABC did start adding decent programming beginning in the mid 1950s.  Their westerns were as good as Gunsmoke and Bonanza, and they added a full daytime schedule in 1958.  They also went for the youth market far more than CBS or NBC did, starting with putting the Philly-based American Bandstand on the full network beginning in 1957.
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bandit957

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Re: Why was NBC in the toilet in the late '70s?
« Reply #33 on: October 07, 2019, 03:14:25 PM »

Channel 19 was the Metromedia station in Cincinnati, and it eventually became the Fox affiliate. But I don't think it was still owned by Metromedia when Fox started.

I remember watching afternoon cartoons on Channel 19 in the early '80s. The 3 VHF stations had their own news departments, but the only news I remember Channel 19 having back then was right before the cartoons. This was a fairly short news installment that consisted only of their voiceover man reading the AP newswire, and the video just consisted of simple slides they used in each newscast.
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KEVIN_224

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Re: Why was NBC in the toilet in the late '70s?
« Reply #34 on: October 07, 2019, 03:29:02 PM »

WTXX-TV (IND) channel 20 of Waterbury, CT did similar to that. Today they're WCCT-TV (CW), sister station of WTIC-TV (FOX) channel 61 of Hartford. The difference is that channel 20 was WATR-TV (NBC) beforehand, covering western and southern portions of the market which WVIT-TV (NBC) channel 30 of New Britain couldn't reach at the time.

WTIC-TV has been a FOX affiliate since that network started, carrying Joan Rivers' talk show and all. WTIC-TV signed on in September of 1984. Unlike channel 20, WVIT-TV has always been a primary NBC affiliate. The original CBS affiliate in this area was actually channel 18 of Hartford. Today they're Univision affiliate WUVN-TV. Market leader WFSB-TV channel 3 of Hartford didn't sign on until September of 1957, taking on CBS in 1960.
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Re: Why was NBC in the toilet in the late '70s?
« Reply #35 on: October 07, 2019, 03:40:03 PM »


IIRC, Supertrain was pitched to the network as "The Love Boat on rails".

Yes.  Among the worst shows ever made, Supertrain was an attempt to rip off the Love Boat show.

While not my cup of tea, the Love Boat was marketing brilliance.  This was near the beginning of the “cruise to nowhere” industry.  They got use of the boat in return for showing it on TV.  And they got faded D-list celebs, and sometime better ones, to appear because in that 90% tax bracket era, the deal a cruise, which was considered working and not taxed.  Often they took union minimum.

And let's be honest, Princess Cruises (and the industry as a whole) was quite happy to do it as well.  It was free advertising for them that advertisers were willing pay for.
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Re: Why was NBC in the toilet in the late '70s?
« Reply #36 on: October 07, 2019, 04:30:29 PM »

On the morning before the debut of Supertrain, the Today show did a behind-the-scenes feature about the show.  Gene Shalit and Tom Brokaw appeared, well, less than enthusiastic about Supertrain's chances, and mounting costs...
(the original poster goofed the edit and re-ran part of the report again)

Several months later, NBC was preparing to air the US coverage of the 1980 Summer Olympics.  The network was about to have yet another setback, though (especially financially), as President Carter would decide that the US would withdraw from that year's Olympics (which were being held in Moscow) because of the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union.  With no US participation, NBC lost their chance to air US coverage of the Games.  Their winning bid was $87 million, but they lost $34 million through no fault of their own.  The ratings potential could have been big for NBC to air those Olympics, but they wouldn't get another chance to redeem themselves until they landed the right to air the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul.
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Rothman

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Re: Why was NBC in the toilet in the late '70s?
« Reply #37 on: October 07, 2019, 05:02:42 PM »

In western MA in the 1980s, we got 3, 22, 40 and 57 and that was it with just the antenna that came with the TV.  61 came in little by little in the later '80s.
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nexus73

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Re: Why was NBC in the toilet in the late '70s?
« Reply #38 on: October 07, 2019, 06:04:48 PM »

Here goes.  From the beginning of TV through about the early 70s, for complex political and insider business reasons, ABC was the weak sister among the three networks.  Absent in many smaller markets, on UHFs or rimshots in other markets, or simply the third station to come to town with people set in their ways in viewing habits.

This weakness meant that producers only offered their third rate shows to ABC.  The best shows were on CBS or NBC.

ABC and Dumont had similar problems, especially with money or the lack thereof.  They also were "drop-in" networks in the days when most markets had only one or two stations, with one carrying NBC and the other CBS.  Those two stations just took what they thought were the best shows from ABC and Dumont and fit them in during mid-afternoon or late-night times, on poor quality kinescopes.

What saved ABC was their 1953 merger with United Paramount Theaters, which had been split from Paramount Studios a year or so earlier.  That merger was also the beginning of the end for Dumont due to Paramount Studios owning a stake in the Dumont Corporation.  Dumont cancelled all of its entertainment programming in 1955, and finished up its sports commitments the next year.

Ironically, although it took another three decades to happen, today's Fox network is the direct descendant of Dumont.  Company founder Alan Dumont was fired by new stockholders in 1958, the company was reorganized into Metromedia, adding a few more stations along the way, and then sold to Rupert Murdoch in 1985.  Murdoch started Fox with those ex-Metromedia stations, gradually building the network.

Quote
By that time, new station licenses and the advent of the first forms of cable (CATV) had brought ABC to equality. 

It helped, but ABC did start adding decent programming beginning in the mid 1950s.  Their westerns were as good as Gunsmoke and Bonanza, and they added a full daytime schedule in 1958.  They also went for the youth market far more than CBS or NBC did, starting with putting the Philly-based American Bandstand on the full network beginning in 1957.


That was an interesting history story!  Alas, I was born the year Dumont went off-air so I never did get to see any of their shows but I did find some clips from their network on Youtube.

Rick
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Re: Why was NBC in the toilet in the late '70s?
« Reply #39 on: October 07, 2019, 08:29:57 PM »

In the late 70s, i could pick up in Detroit, 2(CBS), 4(NBC), 7(ABC), 9(CBC), 20(IND), 22(Global), 29(Global), 32(TVO), 42(CTV), 50(IND), 56(PBS), 62(IND), 78(SRC). Of note, 9, 22, 29, 32, 42, and 78 was in Canada (Windsor/Sarina).

Another thought, Didn't NBC turn around in the mid 1980 (1982-84) occur at the same time many long running shows on ABC and CBS was ending their runs?
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Re: Why was NBC in the toilet in the late '70s?
« Reply #40 on: October 07, 2019, 09:52:44 PM »


IIRC, Supertrain was pitched to the network as "The Love Boat on rails".

Yes.  Among the worst shows ever made, Supertrain was an attempt to rip off the Love Boat show.

While not my cup of tea, the Love Boat was marketing brilliance.  This was near the beginning of the “cruise to nowhere” industry.  They got use of the boat in return for showing it on TV.  And they got faded D-list celebs, and sometime better ones, to appear because in that 90% tax bracket era, the deal a cruise, which was considered working and not taxed.  Often they took union minimum.

NBC tried to copy with this train theme.  Of course, there was no train, so it had to actually pay the celebs to show up, pay for elaborate sets on their fictional train, and pay $10M ($40M today) for a train model in that pre-computer animation era.

It lasted 9 episodes.

From what I saw of Supertrain on YouTube it seemed like it was doing a poor job of imitating The Love Boat. I get the whole idea behind The Love Boat -- scenic locales where the boat docked, a nonstop parade of beautiful starlets and charismatic guest stars. Supertrain on the other hand looked like it spent a lot of time dealing with guys who were trying to smash their way into the train through the windows while it was moving.
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Re: Why was NBC in the toilet in the late '70s?
« Reply #41 on: October 07, 2019, 10:08:46 PM »

I feel like the success of Knight Rider was a big turning point for NBC pulling out of the doldrums. Wasn't long before they even had K.I.T.T. jump over the General Lee in sort of a Coke vs. Pepsi moment:

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Re: Why was NBC in the toilet in the late '70s?
« Reply #42 on: October 08, 2019, 12:22:57 AM »

I remember in the early '80s, CBS had a spin-off of 'The Jeffersons' that lasted something like 3 episodes.
Spin-off of spin-off...
  Florence the maid got her own sitcom before 227.  She had Mash's Larry Linville as a supporting actor as Florence got hired as an Executive Housekeeper in a hotel that George had a cleaning contract with.  Larry Linville played the Hotel Manager who was against Florence being hired for the position as it was the owner (played by John Anderson, not from Yes lol, but veteran actor known for many roles and MacGyver's grandfather) who hired her.  The love to hate antics of Marla Gibbs and Larry Linville were not that good as Florence and George, so it never took off.  However Marla Gibbs had a clause in her contract if her show did not make a hit or got cancelled she could reprise her old role on the Jeffersons. 

Smart move as many leave a program to join another that flops, but cannot return as with actor Norman Fell of Three's Company who left to star in the Roper's, but that show failed after one season and the actor could not return to Threes Company as Don Knotts took his place already.
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roadman65

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Re: Why was NBC in the toilet in the late '70s?
« Reply #43 on: October 08, 2019, 12:25:22 AM »

The late 70's I remember was when classic shows like Sanford and Son ended as well as Chico and the Man and even action shows like Chips.  They did not right away come up with shows to replace them until the early 80's so they suffered for a bit.
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Re: Why was NBC in the toilet in the late '70s?
« Reply #44 on: October 08, 2019, 05:19:41 AM »

This thread reminds me of an early SNL skit titled 'Jeopardy 2020'.  When given the answer "Baa Baa Black Sheep", Chevy Chase replied "What's the longest running show in television history?"
I didn't know there was even a Jeopardy parody in the 70s.
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Re: Why was NBC in the toilet in the late '70s?
« Reply #45 on: October 08, 2019, 09:44:15 AM »

I remember in the early '80s, CBS had a spin-off of 'The Jeffersons' that lasted something like 3 episodes.
Spin-off of spin-off...
Florence the maid got her own sitcom before 227.  She had Mash's Larry Linville as a supporting actor as Florence got hired as an Executive Housekeeper in a hotel that George had a cleaning contract with.  Larry Linville played the Hotel Manager who was against Florence being hired for the position as it was the owner (played by John Anderson, not from Yes lol, but veteran actor known for many roles and MacGyver's grandfather) who hired her.  The love to hate antics of Marla Gibbs and Larry Linville were not that good as Florence and George, so it never took off.  However Marla Gibbs had a clause in her contract if her show did not make a hit or got cancelled she could reprise her old role on the Jeffersons.
That name of that short-lived sitcom was called Checking In
IIRC, a similar situation (not sure of the exact contract clause) happened when Sonny Shroyer (Enos from Dukes of Hazzard) briefly left the show to a spin-off show of his own, called Enos.  The spin-off show was cancelled and he, Shroyer, returned to the parent show as if his departure ever happened.

Smart move as many leave a program to join another that flops, but cannot return as with actor Norman Fell of Three's Company who left to star in the Roper's, but that show failed after one season and the actor could not return to Threes Company as Don Knotts took his place already.
When Polly Holliday left Alice to do her own sitcom Flo; not only was the spin-off show cancelled (due to low ratings) but her replacement on the parent show, Diane Ladd who played Flo in the original movie Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (she played Belle on the TV show), was ultimately fired roughly a year after joining the cast.  After such happened, Holliday was asked if she was interested in returning to Alice following Ladd's firing but she turned it down.  Saying that once she left the nest, that was it.  The role of the third waitress on Alice ultimately went to Celia Weston, who played Jolene.
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roadman

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Re: Why was NBC in the toilet in the late '70s?
« Reply #46 on: October 08, 2019, 10:01:09 AM »

This thread reminds me of an early SNL skit titled 'Jeopardy 2020'.  When given the answer "Baa Baa Black Sheep", Chevy Chase replied "What's the longest running show in television history?"
I didn't know there was even a Jeopardy parody in the 70s.

It was a single skit, not a recurring one.  IIRC, the skit was in either the first or second season of SNL.
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Re: Why was NBC in the toilet in the late '70s?
« Reply #47 on: October 08, 2019, 12:11:58 PM »

The Ropers did make a cameo in one Three's Company episode after The Ropers was cancelled.

Another spinoff where the actors returned afterward was the Happy Days spinoff Joanie Loves Chachi.  Both Erin Moran and Scott Baio returned to the main show cast for the final season as if they never left.  And then there was Carla's brief Cheers spinoff The Tortellis which developed more on Nick, his wife (who I can't believe is Casey Kasem's widow) and her kids.  Rhea Perlman never actually left Cheers while it was being shot, so it was more of a parallel. 
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Re: Why was NBC in the toilet in the late '70s?
« Reply #48 on: October 08, 2019, 01:37:47 PM »

In western MA in the 1980s, we got 3, 22, 40 and 57 and that was it with just the antenna that came with the TV.  61 came in little by little in the later '80s.

WTIC-TV (FOX) channel 61 of Hartford signed on September 17, 1984. Today, FOX in Springfield/Holyoke is via WGGB-TV channel 40-2. They call it "FOX 6" for its cable position in Springfield.
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Re: Why was NBC in the toilet in the late '70s?
« Reply #49 on: October 08, 2019, 01:49:12 PM »

In the late 70s, i could pick up in Detroit, 2(CBS), 4(NBC), 7(ABC), 9(CBC), 20(IND), 22(Global), 29(Global), 32(TVO), 42(CTV), 50(IND), 56(PBS), 62(IND), 78(SRC). Of note, 9, 22, 29, 32, 42, and 78 was in Canada (Windsor/Sarina).

Another thought, Didn't NBC turn around in the mid 1980 (1982-84) occur at the same time many long running shows on ABC and CBS was ending their runs?

I think that was the Cosby Show and a few others that helped it out then.  Just what we needed at the time...someone clean and wholesome that would never cause any trouble for anyone.

 :ded:
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