Comcast Corp.'s NBC broadcast network is developing live-event programs and mini-series to draw audiences when programs air as opposed to recording them to watch later on DVRs.
NBC is developing four mini-series, including a four-hour show based on Hillary Clinton, who will be played by Diane Lane, Bob Greenblatt, chairman of entertainment, said today at a TV critic conference in Beverly Hills.
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Broadcast networks are taking a page from cable channels and developing dramas with 10 to 15 episodes, mini-series and live stunts. Live events and high-profile mini-series draw more live viewers than TV series, Greenblatt said. With DVRs now in more than half of U.S. TV homes, the programs are a way to limit viewing on the devices, which allow audiences to skip commercials.
"We need to be in the event business," Greenblatt said. "Live events are very important these days when you're trying to fight the DVR."
NBC is also developing "Plymouth," a mini-series from Mark Burnett about the Pilgrims landing in Massachusetts, Greenblatt said. Other mini-series include an update of "Rosemary's Baby" and a new version of Stephen King's "Tommyknockers," he said.
The network is looking for events such as Discovery Channel's live broadcast of Nik Wallenda becoming the first person to cross the Grand Canyon on a tightrope, which drew 13 million viewers when it aired in June. NBC will air a game show called "The Million Second Quiz" starting Sept. 9, and plans to air a live performance of "The Sound of Music," starring Carrie Underwood, in December.
"We have to do everything we can to get as many people to watch a show when it airs as possible," Greenblatt said. "I wouldn't mind if people watched our shows three weeks later, but that's not the way our business works. What we do is driven by advertising."