Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Carol Burnett Special Scores Huge Ratings for Wrong Network: Why Was It On NBC and Not CBS?


The 90th birthday Carol Burnett special scored huge ratings Wednesday night. The show pulled in 7.6 million viewers and was number 1 across all broadcast networks.

But insiders are wondering why it wasn’t on CBS, Carol’s home for two decades, and on NBC instead?

The word is CBS passed on the special even though Carol was one of the superstars of the 60s and 70s who made them into the Tiffany Network. Even with all the A listers on the show, like Cher and Julie Andrews, the 90th birthday didn’t appeal to them.

Instead, Burnett — who owns her famous CBS show and all its clips — turned to NBC. They went for it without thinking twice, and their decision paid off handsomely.

Burnett is ageless, even at 90, and has gotten hipper over the years. Her old shows play every night on the MeTV Channel and have found a whole new audience.

In CBS’s defense, I will say the special was not well produced. It had a cheap look to it, and wasn’t well written. But fans didn’t care. A lot of the ratings success came from excellent marketing and word of mouth. What CBS didn’t understand is that Burnett represents a much needed nostalgia for calmer times— even though when the show aired, we had Watergate and Vietnam. But people weren’t vicious the way they are now.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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