Prior to Sunday's Super Bowl XLIII, it was reported that NBC would use five minutes of free promotional time, worth an estimated $30 million dollars, to advertise its Monday night lineup consisting of CHUCK, HEROES and MEDIUM. Other ads would encourage viewers to stay tuned for an hour long episode of THE OFFICE.
After watching the game it sure seemed like more than five minutes was used. The Monday night lineup was promoted over and over. There were the promised OFFICE promos during the game. There was even a advertisement for Jay Leno's new 10pm ET weeknight show coming in the fall.
What we didn't see was any promos for the best show on television, FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS. You know, NBC's Friday night drama about football. FNL has been superb this season but has struggled in the ratings on the viewer-challenged Friday night broadcast television lineup. The past two weeks the show only managed four million viewers. The show desperately needs promotion and there was no better opportunity than the Super Bowl on NBC.
I would go so far as to say FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS should have been given the post-Super Bowl slot instead of THE OFFICE. THE OFFICE is a show that people either love or hate. It has been given enormous promotion and media coverage since day one. The Super Bowl is expected to top 90 million viewers again this year when ratings are released later today. One of the biggest problems FNL has faced is not enough people have sampled the show. What a match made in TV promotion heaven it would have been for some of the 90 million to sample FNL and fall in love with the show. Yet NBC chose not to go there.
I understand the arguments for various shows being given that timeslot and NBC obviously felt the best strategy was to promote THE OFFICE yet again. What I do not understand is how FNL could have been ignored completely when they were dividing up the advertising time among their shows. I hosted a small party with a group of people who do not watch any of the NBC Monday night programs. They all rolled their eyes every time the ads came on. They did nothing to make them want to watch any of those shows. Imagine what a moving 30-second clip of FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS could have done to win over new fans. If ratings don't pick up, NBC has no one to blame but themselves. And fans of the show will be the ones who suffer if it doesn't return in the fall.
NBC has shown a commitment to the show over the past three years but this decision was a head scratcher.
UPDATE: With 95.4 million viewers, this year's game was the second-most-watched ever.