November 15, 2010 / 10:52 PM / 9 years ago

NBC goes for wall to wall TV comedy on Thursdays

LOS ANGELES, Nov 15 (Reuters) - Struggling network NBC on Monday announced an all-comedy block of programs for Thursdays in an apparent bid to recapture its heyday as the leading source of laughs when it aired “must-see TV” in the 1990s on that same night.

Starting January 20, NBC said it would feature three hours of “wall to wall comedy” in prime time on Thursday nights, including the 10 pm slot usually reserved for scripted drama.

New romantic comedy “Perfect Couples” will join “Community”, “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation”. Emmy-winning comedy “30 Rock” moves to 10 pm and the new series “Outsourced” will conclude the block at 10:30 pm.

NBC also said it had renewed “30 Rock” — created by and starring Tina Fey — for the 2010-11 TV season.

The new line-up recalled NBC’s “must-see TV” era from the 1980s into the early 2000s when the network ruled ratings by running a string of hit comedies including “Friends”, “Cheers”, “Seinfeld” and “Will & Grace” on Thursday nights.

NBC is currently battling Fox for third place in total viewers this TV season after ending at the bottom of the four leading U.S. networks for several years.

The Thursday night TV audience is the most sought after by advertisers looking to pitch cars, movies and retail products to an 18-49 year-old audience ahead of weekend shopping.

But according to Nielsen figures last month, the 18-49 audience on any TV channel, live or recorded, is down by 4.3 percent or 2.2 million this TV season compared to last.

NBC also said that a new legal drama from “Ally McBeal” creator David E. Kelly called “Harry’s Law” would start in January on Mondays, and new superhero series “The Cape” will get a two-hour launch on Jan. 9 before moving to a regular slot also on Mondays.

The Jerry Seinfeld comedy game show “The Marriage Ref” will return to NBC in March and air on Sunday evening.

NBC is a unit of General Electric Co (GE.N) and is expected to be taken over by cable operator Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O) by the end of this year.

Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte

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