The arm of NBC stretches long

Yes, NBC is the lowest-rated network on broadcast television. Yes, the former home of The West Wing and Seinfield must rely on a talent show and a Howie Mandel vehicle to stay afloat.

And while I don’t usually tune in to NBC except when the permutations of Law & Order are on, that doesn’t mean the Peacock’s feathers don’t stretch far.

In addition to NBC, parent company NBC Universal also owns Sci-Fi, USA and Bravo, three cable stations around which I surf constantly. And a number of shows on those networks have a Season Pass on my TiVo.

Bravo used to be an arts channel broadcasting high-minded dramatic movies, but now their bread and butter is reality television. Project Runway is the network’s biggest cultural zeitgeist at the moment, and they were responsible for introducing the Queer Eye.

Celebrity Poker Showdown and Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List are also personal favorites, and syndication rights to The West Wing got me started on watching the network in the first place.

USA is pretty much the Law & Order: Criminal Intent and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit marathon channel, but some of its original programming have drawn in audiences.

The 4400 has lost some of its lustre since its initial mini-series debut, but it’s still more interesting than what’s offered on USA’s broadcast sister network. Psych has been criticized as Monk-lite, but it’s a top-rated show in the coveted 18-49 demographic.

I could never get into Monk personally, but I’m a big fan of Psych. The chemistry between James Roday and Dulé Hill is incredible. Monk, of course, is also one of USA’s top draws, as is The Dead Zone.

I can’t say I channel-surf to Sci-Fi very often, but Eureka is a charming show with a quirkiness driven by geeks instead of suburban housewives. Sci-Fi’s greatest boon, though, is Battlestar Galactica, the "re-imagined" take on the one-season ABC wonder from the ’70s.

I was skeptical of the show at first, but so many people encouraged me to watch it that I finally rented the DVDs. I really couldn’t believe what I was watching. It’s probably the most human show on television, which is incredible given the fact it’s set in space. What other shows on television deal with the end of the world?

I realized the oddity of this discovery whenever I went to the websites of each of these networks. The same frustrating pop-up window came up, each plugging the same pre-video commercial and all of them painfully slow-loading. "NBC ought to invest in more bandwidth," I grumbled.

When I read articles pointing out NBC’s ratings sink, I have to question the direness of the situation. NBC itself may not be pleasing the parent company, but there’s enough content to go around all the properties to attract viewers.

NBC may not be doing all that great, but the Peacock isn’t totally absent from my viewing schedule.