As a Denizen of the Greater Cleveland area and an avid television viewer I noticed something curious last night. For some reason the show Matlock appeared on the prime time schedule of my local NBC affiliate, WKYC. I took to social media and noticed that lots of other people in the area were talking about this phenomenon, so it was something that was actually happening and not some sort of hallucination.
What the hell exactly was going on? As this well done Uproxx post by Dustin Rowles explains what happened last night, naturally, was that WKYC decided to air a 21 year old Matlock movie as opposed to two hours of NBC’s Thursday night Prime Time lineup. Or, in Rowles’ words: “The channel pre-empted The Office, a new 1600 Penn, and Law and Order: SVU to air a Matlock movie. A 21-year-old television movie in the 18th largest television market in the United States.”
They replied back and basically told me that the ratings for The Office and 1600 Penn are so poor (which is true- 1600 Penn has only been getting a few million viewers each week nationally), that they are airing the Matlock rerun locally here in Cleveland in order to “give back ratings points to advertisers”, which is basically saying that they expect a Matlock rerun from 20 years ago to generate better viewership than NBC’s lineup, which most other affiliates will be airing, which also includes a rerun of The Office and a rerun of Law and Order. Pathetic.
This is the culmination of a series of embarrassing low points for NBC. In the recently completed February ratings “sweeps” period for the first time ever the network finished in a humiliating fifth place, behind Univision.
Perhaps even more disturbingly for the Peacock network, twitter users in the area for the most part didn’t seem too upset with the programming change. In fact, the Matlock episode generated more buzz on social media than episodes of The Office, 1600 Penn and Law & Order: SVU likely would have, perhaps only due to the novelty of the whole situation.
One heroic Cleveland twitter user, John Koterba, even live-tweeted the entire 21-year-old Matlock TV movie. And lest you think this is just some kind of strange one-off situation, the NBC affiliate is planning to the same thing next Thursday, this time showing the movie Matlock: the Heist.
Could this some kind of payback for Andy Griffith being left off the “In Memoriam” montage as this year’s Oscars?