No, not to viewers like you! To advertisers. According to Mediaweek, a precipitous drop in ratings has NBC paying out refunds to advertisers who bought ad space based on the ratings they expected, not the ratings they actually got. It’s not uncommon for faltering networks to offer advertisers “makegoods,” or free future ad slots, to make up for ratings shortfalls, but apparently NBC’s performance is so poor that offering straight-up refunds is necessary. (Mediaweek also points out that advertisers want ads to run now, before Christmas, not in January, so makegoods are less appealing.)
We imagine this is a little embarrassing for NBC wunderkind Ben Silverman, who has long boasted that it will be he who drags NBC out of the ratings hole his predecessors dug for him.
Luckily, Silverman can still blame this fall on those predecessors, as they green-lit most of the network’s lousy shows; it won’t be all Silverman’s fault until American Gladiators has, as one ad buyer fears, a “negative impact” in audience quality. (Translation: fewer rich people, more poor people.) Luckily, at that point Ben will have made millions and millions of dollars from selling Reveille and can just pay advertisers out of pocket.