Cleveland NBC affiliate WKYC-TV raised a few eyebrows on Thursday night when the station announced a fairly last-minute adjustment to its primetime lineup. In lieu of the regular NBC fare -- The Office, 1600 Penn, Law & Order: SVU -- it put on a 20-year-old episode of Matlock.
Previously scheduled programming was displaced to Saturday night, though all but 1600 Penn was an encore.
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So why Matlock? WKYC president and general manager Brooke Spectorsky tells The Hollywood Reporter that there's a lot of lingering affection for the long-defunct legal drama.
"The Academy did snub Andy Griffith," says Spectorsky. "We thought it would be a nice tribute."
Griffith was among the late actors to not make Sunday's Oscars In Memoriam reel, and his exclusion has been among the most debated.
Still, it comes as a rather unfortunate time for the National Broadcasting Company. NBC, which has seen its ratings struggle during midseason, fell behind Univision to fifth place during the February sweep. And while the move did not boost WKYC-TV's typical Thursday performance, it did see an uptick in one demographic.
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The two-hour Matlock: The Legacy telepic averaged a 1.12 rating with men 25-54. Roughly even with NBC's recent Thursday showings in the two-hour block, Spectorsky says that it did do better than Cleveland ABC affiliate WEWS' broadcast of Scandal and Jimmy Kimmel Live! repeats.
WKYC-TV plans to air Matlock: The Heist during the same time period next week, but there are no plans beyond that.
Despite the goodwill for Griffith and the show, Spectorsky chalks up the preemption as a fun experiment. He's well aware that Matlock has very little recognition with younger viewers.