NBC unbowed by Colbert surge, pleased by fans' embrace of 'Timeless'

BEVERLY HILLS  — NBC says isn’t worried about the rise of Stephen Colbert’s Late Show on rival CBS.

NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt acknowledged the Trump effect on late-night comedy, telling the Television Critics Association Thursday that Seth Meyers is “using this crazy news cycle as his own personal weapon.”

But Trump has mainly elevated Colbert, TBS’ Samantha Bee and others who have won new viewers mocking the volatile president, even as The Tonight Show‘s Jimmy Fallon has largely stayed on the sidelines. As a result, his ratings are down this season, and Colbert has gained a significant lead among all viewers since Inauguration Day, a margin that reached its widest point last month. 

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“I think that will even itself out, I say laughingly,” Greenblatt said.  “Jimmy has his own way of doing it,” and remains “the undisputed leader” among Tonight‘s target audience of adults ages 18 to 49, though that lead has narrowed.  “Once things even themselves out a little bit,” Greenblatt said, in an apparent reference to viewers tiring of Trump jokes, “you’ll see the total rating go back up a little.  I have no concern whatsoever about what he’s doing or how he’s doing it.”

Save our show: Does the renewal of Timeless, days after NBC canceled it, signal that fans control the fate of shows?  “Don’t write this, but they don’t,” Greenblatt joked, asking them, “Where were you when we had the show on the air? Outcry from fans, and I don’t know how many there really were on social media, it’s probably smaller than you think.”

But he conceded that outcry ultimately contributed to the decision to reverse course, as he told USA TODAY in May, when the 20th annual Save Our Shows poll revealed it was the favorite among 24 endangered series.

Programming chief Jennifer Salke said the fan campaign was “bombarding us with feelings we (already) had,” and despite “financial and ratings challenges,” that “passion led us to wonder, could we figure out a way that this makes sense? Genre fans get very excited and noisy. That’s why we love to program for them.”

Timeless will return for a 10-episode second season next spring or summer. 
 

usatoday.com