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NBC has buzz this season

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NBC hopes if you build buzz, ratings will come.

For the first time in years, the network is on the receiving end of some good news: Three of its new fall shows are flying the highest on the Internet buzzmeter. According to a new study conducted by market research firm Brandimensions, the Saturday Night Live parodies Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and 30 Rock, along with the sci-fi action show Heroes, are getting the most favorable mentions on the Web.

The study monitored blogs, fan sites, message boards, and Web sites for mentions of TV shows premiering in the upcoming fall season. The study showed that in the 2.3 million mentions of new fall shows, the Aaron Sorkin show Studio 60 was mentioned the most, with 22 percent.

In second place was Heroes, with almost 10 percent of the online mentions. NBC clocked in again at number four with Tina Fey's 30 Rock.

Studio 60 is creator Sorkin's one-hour comedy drama chronicling a fictional late-night sketch show similar to SNL. The series stars Matthew Perry, Amanda Peet, and Bradley Whitford. Originally scheduled to go up against CSI and Grey's Anatomy on Thursdays, NBC switched the show to Monday nights hoping it could dominate the time period.

"There was a greater sense in mid-May that the time slot for Studio 60 would be a detractor. Based on comments, now that's no longer the case, and NBC appears to have made an excellent move to give this show a chance. It would have been lost in the shuffle," said Brandimensions analyst Michael Coristine.

Also based on SNL is 30 Rock, a 30-minute sitcom named after 30 Rockefeller Plaza, the New York building that houses the SNL studios. The show stars head writer Fey as the head writer for a fictional sketch comedy show called The Girlie Show, presided over by network crony Alec Baldwin. Tracy Morgan portrays a comic known as Tracy Jordan.

The superhero show Heroes tells the story of ordinary people who are given superpowers, and it's being compared to ABC's hit Lost. Each week, an animated graphic novel will be added to to expand the story from the episode.

NBC needs a shot in the arm. The network was once home to "must-see TV" and comfortably rested at number one. In the past two years it tumbled to number four of the big four networks and pulled in only 1.9 billion in yearly advertising, down 1 billion from 2004.

Other shows that scored highly include CBS's postapocalypse drama Jericho, ABC's Six Degrees and comedy Ugly Betty, and Fox's conspiracy drama Vanished. Scoring lowest was the upcoming CW sitcom, The Game, with less than 1 percent of total mentions.

This report shows not only that the Internet can help shows gain buzz, but that market research firms will troll the vast netherworlds of the Web in search of that buzz so they can repurpose it and, hopefully, create more of it.

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