NBC Los Angeles won’t move Kelly Clarkson, instead will add local news and live version of ‘Nightly’

By Michael P. Hill Article may include affiliate links

KNBC, the NBC-owned station in Los Angeles, will not, as expected, move “The Kelly Clarkson Show” to the former “Ellen” timeslot and instead air local and national news in the spot, the station group announced.

NBC’s station group, which includes some of the largest markets in the country, had previously announced that it would replace “Clarkson” with the outgoing “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” on its schedules, though that still left an hour to fill since the group had not picked up any syndicated show at the time.

That meant that “Clarkson” would have moved to 3 p.m. local time in Los Angeles. However, it will now remain at 2 p.m.

Instead, KNBC will add a 30-minute local newscast at 3 p.m. and then air “NBC Nightly News” live from the east coast at 3:30 p.m. (it’s 6:30 p.m. on New York).

Currently, the station uses the west coast feed provided by NBC and airs it at 6:30 p.m. local time.

“Nightly” when then serve as a lead-in into KNBC’s local news block that runs from 4 to 6:30 p.m.

This isn’t the first time this tactic has been used. KABC, the ABC-owned L.A. station already does this exact thing with “ABC World News Tonight,” which will now air head-to-head with “Nightly” at both 3:30 p.m. local time as well as later at 6:30 p.m.

ABC has been able to boost its “World News Tonight” ratings with this strategy because the Los Angeles 3:30 and 6:30 viewers all count toward the total ratings (All of the “big three” networks also re-air their evening newscasts in the early morning hours in markets where they own stations and these ratings count toward the overall total as well).

NBC and ABC are in a battle for the top evening network newscast after years of dominance by NBC. ABC has since been able to catch up and taking the top spot from “Nightly.” At least some of this growth is thanks to the L.A. simulcast.

In effect, airing the network newscast twice has several benefits: It fills a block of afternoon programming with essentially no additional costs, offers viewers an early look at the news and helps boost the national ratings. Because Los Angeles is the second-largest media market in the country, attracting even a relatively small portion of the metro area’s viewers can add significant numbers to the overall total.

Whether NBC will end up using this strategy at its San Fransisco and San Diego stations, which are also in the Pacific time zone, is not immediately clear. A source said that the network does not have an announcement beyond the KNBC schedule change.

While west coast stations are best situated for this arrangement, it could be done, at least in theory, for central time zone markets (NBC does not own any stations in the mountain time zone), though it seems unlikely.

This would mean carrying “Nightly” live at 5:30 p.m like is done now and then re-airing it at 6:30 p.m., which would displace the current 30 minutes of syndicated programming until primetime starts at 7 p.m. central time.

The concept wouldn’t be feasible on the east coast, where the majority of NBC’s owned stations are, unless the network starts producing an earlier version of “Nightly” or the stations air a repeat of it in access hour from 7 to 8 p.m.

Eastern time zone stations don’t have the time zone advantage working in their favor and obviously they can’t air a show that hasn’t been produced yet.

All NBC owned stations except KNBC still have to announce plans to fill the hour that opened up thanks to “Ellen” going off the air.

Other options, particularly outside the Pacific time zone, could include launching a local lifestyle show or additional local newscast, a rebroadcast of another network show such as a portion of “Today.” The network could also draw on its Lx brand. Filling it with syndicated programming is technically possible, but nearly all syndicated programming has been spoken for at this point.

Another much less likely option could include drawing on NBC News Now’s streaming feed to fill the time.