NBC affiliates refusing to air “30 Rock” reunion

The reunion special was produced by NBC's marketing department.
(Logo: NBCUniversal/Comcast, Graphic: The Desk)

More than half of the country’s NBC affiliates will not air a much-anticipated “30 Rock” special on Thursday evening over concerns that the program is too commercial.

The special was produced by NBC’s marketing department to promote advertisement opportunities on the network and its supplemental streaming service Peacock. This type of promotion is taking the place of a traditional “upfront,” an annual convention where networks like NBC showcase the best of their current and future programming to potential advertisers.

Thursday’s special is timed to coincide with the national launch of Peacock. But some station owners are saying the 30 Rock reunion is too commercial, and they’re worried about Peacock pulling viewers away from their traditional broadcast offerings.

Their concerns may not be unfounded: Peacock has been available to viewers of Comcast‘s X1 and Flex platforms since mid-April (NBC and Peacock are owned by cable giant Comcast), and executives say early viewership data from Peacock’s limited rollout has surpassed internal targets.

Stations owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group, Nexstar Media, TEGNA, Gray Television and Hearst Television are among those with plans to pull the special from their outlets, according to entertainment blog Vulture.

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The special is still expected to reach around 40 percent of TV viewers in the United States thanks to Comcast’s ownership of 10 NBC stations in major markets. Those stations include KNBC (Channel 4) in Los Angeles, WNBC (Channel 4) in New York, WCAU (Channel 10) in Philadelphia and KNTV (Channel 11) in San Jose, California.

Viewers in markets where independent station owners have chosen not to run the special will have to wait until it’s posted on the NBC website or made available on Peacock a few hours later. The special will also replay across NBC-owned cable networks Friday evening.

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