Several of NBC's biggest local affiliate groups are refusing to air the 30 Rock reunion special on Thursday, according to a report by Vulture. The TV-station groups add up to about half of the TVs in the U.S., and they have reportedly told NBC flat-out that they will not air their special. Their reason is that the special serves as a promotion for NBCUniversal's new streaming service, Peacock, which the TV stations see as a threat to their business.
The TV station groups that are refusing to air the 30 Rock reunion special include Gray Television, Hearst, Nexstar, Tegna, and Sinclair Broadcast Group. Each of these grants NBC access to local TV stations across the country, usually without any complaints — until now. The TV providers are reportedly not pleased that NBC is airing a public TV special in place of its usual up-front presentation, which is for the eyes of advertisers and industry insiders only. They fear that the special will only drive more customers away from conventional TV and towards a full-time streaming replacement.
These fears are not entirely without reason. Peacock is expected to be a tectonic shift in the ongoing "streaming wars" — providing cord-cutters with all kinds of options that were previously reserved only for broadcast viewers and cable subscribers. Notably, the service will have a free version, where users can watch live TV and about half of Peacock's streaming library at no charge, provided they are willing to sit through commercials. This low risk could be a real threat to old-fashioned TV.
Still, fans may not be pleased to have these massive syndicates censoring a broadcast the rest of the country will get to see for themselves — especially since it reunites such a beloved sitcom. Luckily, these fans will still be able to watch online, either on NBC.com or on Peacock itself starting on Friday morning.
If anything, the fact that they have to go online searching for this special could drive 30 Rock fans away from the TV and towards Peacock, in many cases. The reunion special was expected to be an in-character video chat, much like the Parks and Recreation reunion or the end of SNL's season this spring. However, the trailer released last week seems to show the old cast members in a passable imitation of real life.
The 30 Rock reunion special is set to air on about half of NBC stations across the U.S. on Thursday, July 16, and will be streaming on Peacock the following morning. Check your local listings to see if you can watch it live.