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Why WLWT-TV Won't Air NBC's '30 Rock' Reunion Tonight

Courtesy NBCUniversal
In the "30 Rock special," the cast helps Kenneth Parcell (Jack McBrayer, center) prepare a network promotion. Also pictured at top (from left) are Alec Baldwin, Tina Fey, Tracy Morgan and Jane Krakowski.

Count WLWT-TV among the many NBC affiliates not broadcasting the 30 Rock reunion tonight with Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Tracy Morgan, Jack McBrayer and Jane Krakowski.

About half of the NBC stations nationwide are refusing to air the one-hour special because the affiliates consider the 30 Rock: A One-Time Special  "too much of a promotion for the company's new Peacock streaming platform,"Vulture reports.

"Station owners are understandably worried about Peacock siphoning viewers from linear TV, particularly since the new platform will offer next-day reruns of NBC shows on its premium tier (and week-late access to reruns on its free level)," Vulture says.

Credit Courtesy NBCUniversal
The '30 Rock: A One-Time Special cast (top row from left) Jack McBrayer as Kenneth Parcell, Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy, Tina Fey as Liz Lemon; (middle row from left) Tracy Morgan as Tracy Jordan, Jane Krakowski as Jenna Maroney, Scott Adsit as Pete Hornberger; (bottom row from left) Judah Friedlander as Frank Rossitano, Keith Powell as James "Toofer" Spurlock, Sue Galloway as Sue, John Lutz as Lutz.

Instead of the special, WLWT-TV will air Let's Talk Cincy (8-9 p.m.), its Saturday night public affairs program.

"We are not clearing the 30 Rock special this evening. Tonight we are providing a timely and locally produced episode of our Emmy-nominated Let's Talk Cincy throughout the market in order to address issues that are critically important," said Branden Frantz, Channel 5 president and general manager.

The 30 Rock cast taped the scripted reunion remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also doubles as a promotion for NBCUniversal's new and returning fall TV programming on NBC, USA, Syfy, E!, Bravo and Peacock. The Emmy-winning sitcom aired from 2006 to 2013 on NBC Thursday nights.

"If viewers are interested in watching the episode of 30 Rock -- promoting the new and returning slate of series selected to air this fall or in 2021 -- you can do so on one of the channels of NBC Universal, beginning Friday. 30 Rock will be available numerous times on multiple outlets," Frantz says.

All of the Heart stations, including WLWT-TV, are pre-empting the special along with Gray Television, Sinclair Broadcast Group, Nexstar and Tegna.

NBCUniversal launched its Peacock streaming service Wednesday to compete with Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, CBS All Access, HBO Max, Apple TV+ and other services.

Peacock offers three levels of service:

Peacock Free: A free, ad-supported option with about 13,000 hours of programming.

Peacock Premium with advertising: For $4.99 a month, subscribers get about 20,000 hours of content with commercials, including "Peacock Originals" and earlier access to NBC's late night programming. For example, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and Late Night With Seth Meyers drop at 8 p.m.

Peacock Premium without advertising: For $9.99 subscribers get all the premium content without commercials.

John Kiesewetter, who has covered television and media for more than 35 years, has been working for Cincinnati Public Radio and WVXU-FM since 2015.