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Affiliates Balk at Airing NBC’s ‘30 Rock’ Special

(Image credit: NBCU)

Many NBC affiliates are planning not to air Thursday’s special episode of 30 Rock, which is also designed as an upfront presentation for all of NBCUniversal.

There are several reasons why the affiliates are resisting the show. For one thing, the 30 Rock special will take up a commercial free hour of primetime, and with local ad revenues down because of business closings as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, every dollar counts.

Related: NBCU Reunites ‘30 Rock’ for Upfront

The special will also be previewing shows on NBCU cable networks, including USA and Syfy, which siphon off viewers from broadcast, as well as the streaming service Peacock.

Peacock is a particular problem because of NBCU’s plan to let premium subscribers watch NBC late night shows early, during primetime.

Station groups declined to comment. Some referred calls to Gray Television President Pat LaPlatney, who heads the NBC affiliate board. LaPlatney hadn’t returned a call when this story was published.

A NBC spokesperson confirmed that some affiliates have said they didn’t plan to air the special, as was first reported by Vulture.

Viewers in markets where NBC owns stations, about 40% of the country, will be able to watch the show on Thursday night. Other viewers will be able to see it Friday on cable or on demand through Peacock or their cable provider.

Media buyers are mostly in markets where NBC owns stations, including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. Buyers and clients are also being given a special screening of the special at the end of NBCU’s Creative Summit Thursday afternoon.  

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.