Fans of Tina Fey’s hit sitcom 30 Rock were thrilled at the news the cast would be reuniting for a one-off special. However, many won’t be able to see it, as NBC affiliate channels are refusing to broadcast the episode, reports Vulture.
Gray Television, Hearst, Nexstar, Tegna, and Sinclair Broadcast Group have all refused to air the episode, claiming the special contains too much promotional material for NBC’s new streaming platform Peacock. Vulture reports that the stations, who provide NBC programming to half the country, are concerned about Peacock “siphoning” viewers from linear television, especially since the platform will offer next-day reruns of NBC shows.
A representative from NBC confirmed the stations were preempting the special but did not offer any further comment.
Deadline reports that NBC is also hosting a virtual “creativity summit” on Thursday, July 16, the day the special is due to broadcast. Their source stated that since people will have already viewed the episode, so seeing it on television would be “a bonus.”
The fact that the special will be advertisement-free was also allegedly a deciding factor for the affiliate channels. It has been estimated that network ad revenue could decrease by up to 10 percent compared to 2019, due to the coronavirus.
Another factor was that the special would highlight other NBCUniversal channels such as Syfy and USA, in lieu of a planned event at Radio City Music Hall. The event was canceled in light of the pandemic.
However, around 40 percent of the country will still have the opportunity to see what’s happened to Liz Lemon, Jack Donaghy and other 30 Rock characters, as NBC owns stations in the nation’s biggest TV markets.
Additionally, the episode will be available the next day on the network’s website.
Vulture reports that although it’s not unusual for individual stations to pre-empt particular programs, a multi-station boycott is unusual and could suggest frustration at the announcement of the Peacock service.
Deadline reports that the service will contain 13,000 hours of streaming at its free level and 20,000 hours for premium subscribers.
News of the 30 Rock special was announced on June 16, with NBC assuring audiences that it was shot remotely.
The one-hour special will feature Fey, Alec Baldwin, Jane Krakowski, Tracey Morgan, and Jack McBrayer returning as their beloved characters. It will also feature guest appearances from other cast members of NBCUniversal programs.
This is the second reunion special for NBC, who had previously broadcast a Parks and Recreation special, hosted on Zoom.