Interesting story from the Times about NBC considering an hour-long nightly broadcast. The complaint among nightly newsmen, like NBC’s Brian Williams, has long been that the 30-minute format is just too short to report the day’s news, and I tend to agree with that. The reason NBC executives cited for the possibility of doubling up on the nightly news? Money. Apparently, the network’s news division is making a lot of it compared to their major-network colleagues, thanks to their bevy of -NBC-suffixed cable channels.
Since making a commitment two years ago to opinion programming from the left side of the political spectrum, MSNBC’s ratings have surged. The channel just had its best February ever, averaging 471,000 viewers a day, up from 341,000 in February 2007.
MSNBC now pulls in a bigger percentage of the news profits than the network news department, said the senior executive who provided information on NBC’s finances. The margin was not disclosed.
CNBC, the Weather Channel and Telemundo are not counted in the news profits. But with those outlets added, the percentage of contribution to NBC Universal’s profits climbs to 25 percent — or about $775 million.
Whatever works, I say, but let’s not forget that these cable shows are largely interested in pushing headline after headline to gin up money. But if NBC can turn this into a better, hour-long newscast, then fine by me.