Check the gloating at the door

I started the season loving Studio 60 and with mixed feelings about 30 Rock. I’m ending it happy about the news that NBC renewed 30 Rock, and while I mourn NBC’s cancellation of the pre-Christmas Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, I can’t summon any sadness over the cancellation of the post-Christmas, creative crash-and-burn Studio 60.

But there’s an interesting factor in the fates of the two behind-the-scenes-of-an-SNL-like-show shows: Studio 60 kicked 30 Rock‘s ass in the ratings.

Now, by “kicked ass,” you have to imagine a 98-pound weakling beating up a 70-pound weakling. Or, to be specific, an 8.5-million weakling beating up a 5.8-million weakling. That’s the overall audience for each show, and it’s Studio 60 with the bigger numbers.

Those ratings come from Lisa de Moraes of the Washington Post, who points out that Studio 60 also won the ratings race in the 18-49 age bracket advertisers love, and the two shows are equally (un)popular with upscale viewers.

So what’s with NBC’s announcement about how happy they are with the newly renewed 30 Rock‘s potential? As de Moraes says sarcastically after quoting NBC’s praise-filled Kevin Reilly, “it’s barely worth mentioning that NBC Universal 2.0 owns 30 Rock but not Studio 60 – that’s owned by Warner Bros.”

That’s got to be a huge factor, maybe the deciding factor, though I think she’s simplifying. I’d guess the 60-minute drama is far more expensive to produce and therefore the studio and network aren’t seeing as large a return on the investment. I also assume NBC has more promising dramas to fill its schedule than promising comedies, and that they took into consideration Studio 60‘s creative floundering and 30 Rock‘s creative solidification. Studio 60‘s ratings went into a nosedive, so that plus the critical praise and awards to the half-hour show speak in favour of 30 Rock having more potential to grow, à la The Office, rather than crash and burn, à la … Studio 60.

But the fact remains: in viewers, 30 Rock did not triumph over Studio 60. So while I’m not mourning the loss of Studio 60, I can’t stomach the crowing about 30 Rock winning the battle of the behind-the-scenes series just because it’s a better financial investment for NBC.

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6 Responses to Check the gloating at the door

  1. Silver Turtle says:

    I loved Studio 60. It was getting a little weird, but I looked forward to it after Heroes every week.

    I couldn’t stomach more than 60 seconds of 30 Rock, so I really never gave it a fair shot. I’m pretty sure I don’t like it (I wanted to – I love Tina Fey).

  2. Diane Kristine says:

    I still don’t like a couple of characters on 30 Rock (the two leads of the show within the show) but they’re not usually the focus of the episodes anyway. It’s gotten so much better since the beginning, as has Tina Fey’s character. It just might not be your taste, but I’d suggest giving the later episodes a try if you love Tina Fey and only tried watching at the beginning.

  3. Mef says:

    I’m with Diane on this one, silver turtle, it’s definitely worth a second look.

    Tracy Morgan’s character is starting to grow on me and Kenneth can do no wrong.


  4. Anonymous says:

    a major point you missed (though it was reported by everyone but lisa de moraes, an obviosly biased sorkin fan) is that 30 rock held 80% of their ‘scrubs’ lead in, while studio 60 held (lost) half of their ‘heroes’ lead in. when your show causes half of your network audience to turn the channel, you have to make a change.

  5. Diane says:

    I mentioned the ratings nosedive of Studio 60. If NBC had more faith in the show – or if it was a better investment for them – they would have moved it to something more compatible than a Heroes lead-in.

  6. Kristen says:

    I think the ROI is the biggest factor. Studio 60 costs way more than 30 Rock so even with the higher rating it wasn’t making as much if any money.

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