Rock Center with Brian Williams

Rock Center with Brian Williams
Presented by Brian Williams
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 76
Running time 42 minutes
Production company(s) NBC News
Original network NBC
Picture format 1080i (HDTV)
Original release October 31, 2011 (2011-10-31) – June 21, 2013 (2013-06-21)
External links

Rock Center with Brian Williams is an American weekly television newsmagazine that was broadcast on NBC and hosted by NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams. It debuted on October 31, 2011, and aired on Mondays until January 30, 2012.[1] It aired on Wednesdays starting February 8, 2012. It was produced in the Rockefeller Center's "Studio 3B",[2] the same space as NBC Nightly News, and formerly that of the Today Show.

Named after the location of the NBC News headquarters in the GE Building at 30 Rockefeller Center, the program was the first new NBC News program to launch in primetime on NBC since Now with Tom Brokaw and Katie Couric debuted in 1993.[3]

Rock Center was designed to be more serious than NBC's existing prime time newsmagazine, Dateline NBC, which had increasingly delved into human interest and true crime stories,[4] and had switched from a multiple-story format into a single story format.[5]

On May 10, 2012, NBC announced that Rock Center had been removed from the schedule for the remainder of the May 2012 sweeps period due to low ratings. Three days later, on May 13, 2012, NBC announced that Rock Center would be renewed for a second season during its 2012-13 upfront presentation.[6] The series was also shown on MSNBC.

On May 10, 2013, the series was canceled after two seasons. The last program aired on June 21, 2013.[7]


Notable segments

The program received considerable attention for its November 14, 2011 broadcast, in which Bob Costas interviewed former Penn State Nittany Lions football assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.[10] Sandusky proclaimed his innocence in light of recent child sex abuse charges against him, despite acknowledging inappropriate contact with the victims, and denied the alleged cover-up by his former employers. Sandusky would insist that he is not a pedophile. It was Sandusky's first public interview since the abrupt firing of head coach Joe Paterno the week before, whom Sandusky had served as defensive coordinator under for decades with the Nittany Lions.

The Sandusky interview, entitled Sandusky Speaks, was one of three 2011 Rock Center segments that were nominated for News & Documentary Emmy Awards in 2012; the other two were State of Shame and The Price of Gold.[11]



The show premiered to a 1.0 adult 18–49 rating and 4.14 million viewers. This was less (in an 18-49 rating) than the 1.2 rating from the show it replaced, The Playboy Club. Rock Center was the third-ranked show in the timeslot behind new episodes of ABC's Castle, and CBS's Hawaii Five-0.[12]

Season Timeslot (ET) # Ep. Premiered Ended TV Season Rank Viewers
(in millions)
Date Premiere Viewers
(in millions)
Date Finale Viewers
(in millions)
1 Monday 10:00pm
Wednesday 10:00pm
Thursday 10:00pm
October 31, 2011
June 28, 2012
3.30[13] 2011-2012 #147[14] 3.95[14]
2 Thursday 10:00pm (2012)
Friday 10:00pm (2013)
September 13, 2012
June 21, 2013
4.38[16] 2012-2013 #117[17] 4.16[17]

Critical reception

Rock Center with Brian Williams received mixed and moderate reviews. Metacritic scored Rock Center with Brian Williams a 63 out of a possible 100, defining the series as generally favorable.[18]

Linda Stasi of New York Post gave the series a 3.5/4. Stasti wrote "so smart, so unexpected, so entertaining and yet so informative that you might think you just stepped back in time 20 years".[19] Matt Roush of TV Guide gave it a moderate review, stating "Substantive without being stuffy, workmanlike but something less than a wow. Nothing cheesy or sleazy, But nothing really electrifying happened, either.".[20] James Poniewozik of Time also gave a moderate, general review, paying particular attention to a closing segment with Jon Stewart of The Daily Show. "Rock Center may not be a ratings smash, and not all its experiments may work. But the good news is, Williams and Stewart can both keep their day jobs.".[21] Hank Stuever of Washington Post gave a positive review, saying "The result was assured, quick-paced and enjoyably flavored with a few spicy dashes of Brian Williams' dry rub."[22] Alessandra Stanley of The New York Times gave it a general, neutral review. Stanley said "Rock Center is still a work in progress, so it’s hard to judge how it will fare. But it’s already clear that Mr. Williams wasn’t chosen to host it because of his stature as a news anchor. Mostly, he is there to draw viewers who think of him as a funny TV personality who sometimes moonlights delivering the news.".[23]

Timeslot changes

Rock Center changed its nightly timeslot five times since its inception, initially broadcasting on Monday evenings at 10 p.m. ET. The program enjoyed a temporary stint on Wednesday at 9 p.m., until a return to its original timeslot. The program was later moved back to 9 p.m. on Wednesday evenings, until it was removed from the schedule. With its second season renewal, the program moved to Thursday nights at 10 p.m., following NBC's revamped Thursday evening comedy lineup,[6] but ended its run on Fridays at 10 p.m. ET.


  1. Collins, Scott (2011-10-31). "Brian Williams rolls out 'Rock Center'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-10-31.
  2. MSNBC article about the start of "Rock Center"
  3. "NBC cancels 'Playboy Club,' schedules 'Rock Center'". HitFix. Retrieved 2011-10-31.
  4. Guthrie, Marisa (October 24, 2011). "'Rock Center' Looks to Bring More Hard News to Primetime". The Hollywood Reporter.
  5. "Kate Snow On Why 'Rock Center With Brian Williams' Is Different And Better | Entertainment Heartbeat". 2011-11-07. Retrieved 2013-05-13.
  6. 1 2 Seidman, Robert (May 13, 2012). "NBC 2012-13 Season Schedule Announced: Includes Fall Cycle of 'The Voice,' 'Community' on Friday & More". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved May 13, 2012.
  7. Kondolojy, Amanda (May 10, 2013). "'Rock Center with Brian Williams' Canceled by NBC After Two Seasons". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved May 10, 2013.
  8. Carter, Bill (November 13, 2011). "Chelsea Clinton Hired by NBC News". The New York Times.
  9. "Natalie Morales named correspondent, 'Rock Center with Brian Williams'". MSNBC. 2011-10-18. Retrieved 2011-10-31.
  10. "Jerry Sandusky regrets showers with boys at Penn State". BBC. November 14, 2011. Retrieved November 14, 2001.
  11. "The Emmy Awards - - 33rd Annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards nominations". Retrieved 26 July 2012.
  12. 1 2 Seidman, Robert (November 1, 2011). "Monday Final Ratings: 'How I Met Your Mother,' '2 Broke Girls,' 'Hawaii Five-0' Adjusted Up; 'Castle Adjusted Down". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved November 30, 2011.
  13. Kondolojy, Amanda (April 19, 2012). "Wednesday Final Ratings: 'American Idol', 'SVU', 'Survivor', 'Modern Family' Adjusted Up; 'Off Their Rockers, 'Best Friends Forever', 'Rock Center' Adjusted Down". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved April 19, 2012.
  14. 1 2 "Complete List Of 2011-12 Season TV Show Viewership: 'Sunday Night Football' Tops, Followed By 'American Idol,' 'NCIS' & 'Dancing With The Stars' - Ratings | TVbytheNumbers". Retrieved 2013-05-13.
  15. "Thursday Final Ratings: 'Glee' Adjusted Down, No 18-49 Adjustment for 'The X-Factor' - Ratings | TVbytheNumbers". Retrieved 2013-05-13.
  16. Kondolojy, Amanda (22 June 2013). "TV Ratings Friday: 'Rock Center' Series Finale Goes Out With a Whimper + 'What Would You Do' & '20/20' Steady". Retrieved 17 June 2015.
  17. 1 2 Bibel, Sara (29 May 2013). "Complete List Of 2012-13 Season TV Show Viewership: 'Sunday Night Football' Tops, Followed By 'NCIS,' 'The Big Bang Theory' & 'NCIS: Los Angeles'". Retrieved 17 June 2015. External link in |website= (help)
  18. "Rock Center with Brian Williams - Season 1 Reviews". Metacritic. 2011-11-01. Retrieved 2013-05-13.
  19. Stasi, Linda (November 1, 2011). "Solid as a rock". New York Post.
  20. "Roush Review: Rock Center - Today's News: Our Take". 2011-11-01. Retrieved 2013-05-13.
  21. "'Rock Center with Brian Williams': Why Isn't the Evening News More like This?". Time. November 1, 2011.
  22. Yahr, Emily (November 1, 2011). "TV: Brian Williams's 'Rock Center,' assured, brisk and a tad sarcastic". The Washington Post.
  23. Stanley, Alessandra (November 1, 2011). "Brian Williams on 'Rock Center' - Review". The New York Times.
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