After nearly three decades, the curtain drops on one of New York City's hollowed traditions.
Live at Five, the one-hour newscast on NBC-owned WNBC-TV which aired at - well, 5 p.m. every weekday, is being removed for a new one hour strip titled LX New York. The locally-produced program premieres September 14, and it targets females 25-54 with segments featuring celebrity gossip, cooking, fashion, and other goody-good stuff women can't get enough of.
WNBC (and other NBC O&Os, including WMAQ-TV here in Chicago) already air LX-produced Open House and First Look, which primarily air on weekends. LX.TV was acquired by NBC Universal in 2008 to produce local lifestyle programming for its O&Os.
This type of "infotainment" programming was prevalent in the 1970's and the 1980's. For example, KABC-TV in Los Angeles ran Eye on L.A. as a nightly strip in prime access (at 7:30 p.m.) until 1992, when it was regulated to weekends to make room for Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!, which moved from KCBS-TV the same year.
Group W's stations ran PM/Evening Magazine in prime access for years until 1990, when the show was canceled.
WNBC's Live at Five once dominated the market, but ran into trouble beginning in 1987, when crosstown rival WABC-TV moved The Oprah Winfrey Show to 4 p.m. as a news lead-in. Ratings were hurt further when the station dropped long-time news lead-in Donahue in 1995 for the even less-successful Sally Jessy Raphael. When Judge Judy moved to WNBC as a news lead-in back in 1998, ratings for Live at Five rebounded, but dropped again when it lost the rights to Judy back to WCBS-TV a few years later.
Ratings for Live at Five have not been good as of late, with WNBC trailing its other network O&Os in the 5 p.m. time period in households and key demographics.
Thought: While I applaud local programming - I'm definitely all for it - I'm not sure this type of the program is the answer. There's no doubt a female-oriented show featuring cooking, lifestyle, entertainment, and fashion segments would draw viewers - earlier in the day. But this is not the type of show viewers would look for at 5 p.m. - especially if its a hour long.
There was a similar show which debuted in syndication in September 1985 season titled America featuring this same type of format targeted to the same early-fringe time period. Three months and $22 million later, guess where this show ended up? When will syndicators and station execs ever learn from their mistakes? I guess not, since WNBC committed $15 million for a "content center". Is that reporting on it or making it up as it goes along?
Moreover, LX New York would target suburban women who would typically tune in to cable networks like Lifetime and Bravo according to a LX exec.
Targeting suburban New York women. In a market with 7 million people within its city limits. Right.
Another insipid decision by the suits at Nothing But Crap. Let's hope there isn't a LX Chicago. Here's a $15 million commitment - whoever thought of this idea should be committed.