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Broadcasters do not succumb to the Netflix era

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) – If Netflix's status as "cool kids" taking over television is strong, Chuck Lorre, perhaps, will be remembered for accepting the best Golden Globe comedy this month. last for "The Kominsky Method," His broadcast on the streaming service.

Lorre is one of the most successful comedy producers in the history of television, with an estimated net worth of more than $ 600 million after the production of shows including "The Big Bang Theory", "Two and Half Men "and" Mom "for CBS. Yet he had never won an Emmy or a Golden Globe, and it is unlikely he will ever win it if "The Kominsky Method" was broadcast on television and with a more mundane actor than Michael Douglas.

In spite of the humiliating moment, the leaders of the traditional television channels insist that they fight back and that they even perceive an opening. Their very survival may depend on it.

"I think this has allowed us to say that we are providing a unique platform," said Paul Telegdy, co-president of NBC Entertainment with George Cheeks.

Many experts would see a whistling wind, because it is not the ideal place. Netflix, Amazon and Hulu have seemingly bottomless portfolios and a hold on how a new generation wants to consume television. For the first time, streaming services generated more scripted programming than broadcast or cable networks last year. Big names Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy, as well as Barack and Michelle Obama, have agreed to do shows for Netflix.

Streaming looks like the future, while CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox evoke a time when you have to get out of the couch to change channels and maybe adjust the ears of the rabbit for a better reception.

Even with ratings representing a fraction of what they were in the glorious era of monopoly, broadcast networks state that their main benefit is the opportunity to offer creators a wide audience. The networks remain the only distribution system that can provide a perfect image for virtually every US home, "said John Landgraf, FX Network Manager.

While network executives are jealous when streaming shows pick up rewards, "my family has never heard of it," said Cheeks, of NBC channel.

The networks claim to creators attracted by a less restrictive environment at Netflix that they risk getting lost in an ocean of content. According to estimates, the streaming service last year offered more than 500 breathtaking original shows.

"The sheer volume they have taken has made competition between the networks and the cable more difficult," said Karey Burke, the new president of ABC Entertainment. "But, to be honest, I probably noticed last year that creative friends tend not to be part of this volume anymore. I think what networks can offer in terms of our ability to market a show, launch a show, schedule a show in such a way that it is seen, is a value that remains valid. "

The most extreme example of this advantage lies in the launch by CBS of its new talent show, "The World's Best", just after the Super Bowl, in front of 22 million viewers.

Television officials point out that Netflix rarely publishes verifiable accounts of the number of people watching their broadcasts. Netflix has not responded to a request for comment.

The underlying message of broadcasters: the streaming giant also has many failures.

"If you want to live a great common experience, if … you have a project of passion that we hope will pierce popular culture, where do you think it can be done better?", Asked Charlie Collier, head of entertainment at Fox.

Unlike streamers, the programs are broadcast week after week and many producers appreciate this return. They like to be in front of the public every weekend, said Kelly Kahl, president of CBS Entertainment. "And they like this way of telling stories where they bring you something new every week. I will not just fall in your lap in a weekend. "

Networks are becoming more and more flexible to meet the expectations of producers as defined by streaming services, whose seasons are shorter than the approximately 22 episodes of network television.

Producers may sing the praises of Netflix, but the smart ones, including Lorre, are not ready to remove networks.

"I have never been prejudiced against television," said Tom Fontana, executive producer of the famous 1990 NBC television series "Homicide: Life on the Street and" Oz "by HBO." It's like writing a haiku against an epic poem. I have stories to tell and those who want to listen, I will tell them. "

Despite the public interest, network managers know they need to experiment. This spring, ABC will be presenting the NFL draft for the first time, focusing on the athletes whose lives will change. He will broadcast more episodes of "American Idol" live. CBS often comes Stephen Colbert live after special events. Fox will start broadcasting professional wrestling.

While CBS is still in business with renowned brand talents, the competition created by streaming services "forces us to look for new talent," said Kahl. "I do not think it's a bad thing. It could be good for us.

CBS, home of "NCIS" and other traditional action dramas, extends this season with a limited series, "The Red Line", which tackles a police shooting that went wrong and its complex aftermath, and whose producers include filmmaker Ava DuVernay ("Selma"). To put a gloss on the same standard script fare, there is "Crossed" episodes heavily promoted for twin series such as NBC's "Chicago" dramas and CBS's "NCIS" spin-offs. For "This Is Us", NBC transmitters absorb the viewer's emotional investment into the family drama with an online "show" in which cast members dissect the key points of the plot.

"The idea of ​​making a weekly appointment where you meet a community with your friends while you tweet and text while you watch something together and you talk about it the next day, it's always the origin of network television, "said Burke.

The networks also sell an infrastructure built over several decades, consisting of early morning shows and nightly talk shows, links to communities through local anchors, and a multitude of opportunities. Telegdy said that when "The Voice" coach, Kelly Clarkson, wanted to try something new, NBC had an underwritten arm allowing him to start a new talk show.

The networks, of course, are far from the islands. They are an integral part of media giants such as Disney and Comcast who rely on their products and reinforce them. NBC is one of the broadcast networks whose parent companies are co-owners of the Hulu streaming service. CBS has launched its own streaming platform.

Cheeks said he could receive a troubling response when he would come back to Cleveland and that his friends' children would ask him where he was working ("What's NBC?"), But he discovers that They watch "The Tonight Show" by Jimmy Fallon on YouTube and streaming "Saturday Night Live."

"The way people look is different and the way we try to find them has to be different," said Kahl.


Bauder is on Twitter at @dbauder. Elber can be contacted at lelber@ap.org and Twitter at @lynnelber.

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