Monday Memo: Like Sands Through the Hourglass…

By Holland Cooke


BLOCK ISLAND — “…so are The Days of Our Lives.” The intro to that soap opera – er, daytime drama – is SO old that it outlived star MacDonald Carey, still heard voicing-over the beginning of each show on NBC-TV every weekday…until today. After 57 years and 58 Emmy Awards on broadcast television, the venerable melodrama will now be seen exclusively on NBC’s streaming platform Peacock.

Not free?

Peacock has a free option, “no credit card required. You just need an email address and password to sign up.” But Days will only be available to subscribers paying $4.99 per month, or more. Like over-the-air TV, $4.99ers see commercials.

Want to skip the spots? Maybe. “Due to streaming rights, a small amount of programming will still contain ads (Peacock channels, events, and a limited number of shows and movies).” But on the otherwise ad-free $9.99 Peacock Premium tier, “you can stream hundreds of hit movies, full seasons of iconic TV shows and exclusive Peacock Original series, the latest hits from NBC & Bravo, can’t-miss live sports, Peacock Channels 24/7, plus daily live news, late night, and more to satisfy your FOMO. You’ll also get access to kids’ movies and shows, hit Spanish-language TV shows, and news from Telemundo.” And at these prices, you can “download and watch select titles offline.”

“Please don’t call the newsroom. This is not our decision.”

Reporting the change, news anchors on NBC10/Providence quipped that they’re bracing for complaints. If you’re a news/talk station with baseball, you can relate. You get an earful when there are afternoon games. In Art Bell’s heyday – when my client WJBO, Baton Rouge also carried LSU games — the PD said, “My voicemail was full next morning!” with conspiracy theorists accusing that the game deliberately went into extra innings to suppress Art.

NBCUniversal television and streaming chairman Mark Lazarus explains that, “with a large percentage of the ‘Days of Our Lives’ audience already watching digitally, this move enables us to build the show’s loyal fanbase on streaming while simultaneously bolstering the network daytime offering with an urgent, live programming opportunity for partners and consumers.” He refers to “NBC News Daily,” a new hourlong newscast that fills Days’ long-held timeslot.

 Affiliates, screwed again

Remember “Desperate Housewives?” Sunday nights at 9:00 ET is hardly TV primetime, but this was an instant hit, the fourth-most-watched show in the USA its 2004 debut season. ABC stations were giddy…UNTIL the afternoon I sat with the station manager, in his office, at WDAY-TV, Fargo, as he learned – watching the news on his own station – that episodes of “Desperate Housewives,” “Lost,” and other shows would be available next-morning each week, for $1.99, on iTunes. His own network hadn’t even told him they would be end-running his station.

iPhone wasn’t introduced until 2007, iPad didn’t come along until 2010, but in 2004 TV networks were already luring eyeballs away-from their loyal affiliates by training us to watch on our desktop computers instead. Back-to-the-future: NBC now says watch Peacock instead. Your favorite food and home-remodeling shows? They’re full of commercials for you to watch on-demand on Discovery+. Why?

As this big switch-pitch was intensifying more than a year ago, I reported it here and on my TV show. What’s happening to local stations is a tale as old as the Internet itself: Middlemen are being written out of the script (“disintermediated” if you want to sound nonchalant at cocktail parties). Bookstores – heck, all kinds of retail stores — and travel and insurance agents and stockbrokers were lots more in-person pre-dotcom.

A knowledgeable source tells me his TV station makes less money selling advertising than from retransmission fees from cable and satellite, so subscribers get the play-by-play and other programming that networks pay big bucks for…until they don’t. What’s left of the local station when, for instance, NBC moves games to Peacock? And as games continue moving from network TV to streams? NFL Thursday Night Football is on Amazon Prime this season.

Radio ramifications?

Viewers where I live can see the future unfolding. Last week, on NBC10, a new 4:00 pm local news hour replaced “Ellen.” This week, that new NBC newscast takes over the 1:00 hour. Will news eventually fill the 2:00 pm/3:00 pm hours? Stay tuned.

Squint five years, or less, down the road, and there may be two kinds of local TV stations: Big budget local news operations that advertisers line-up to be part of; and other stations that don’t even try. The also-ran stations fire everyone, automate, and just run “Bonanza” and “Diff’rent Strokes” and other oldies and paid programming, and sell programmatically at (or below) radio rates.

Meanwhile, on AM and FM, network spots tout iHeart podcasts; and Martha Quinn and other distant voices have taken over entire dayparts once hosted by local DJs. Like that fork-in-the-road TV stations are approaching, radio stations will have to choose: Relevant local? Or robotic imported?

As for “Days of Our Lives?” NOT cheap to produce. So if it’s not a money-maker for Peacock, no more sand.

Holland Cooke ( is author of the E-book “Multiply Your Podcast Subscribers, Without Buying Clicks,” available from Talkers books; and “Spot-On: Commercial Copy Points That Earned The Benjamins,” a FREE download here: and “Inflation Hacks: Save Those Benjamins.” HC is a consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet. Follow him on Twitter @HollandCooke