TNBC (or Teen NBC) was an American teen-oriented programming block that aired on NBC from September 12, 1992 to September 7, 2002. The Saturday morning block featured live-action series – primarily in the form of scripted teen sitcoms – geared toward teenagers and young adults, the majority of which were produced by the network's in-house production units NBC Studios and NBC Enterprises.
The idea for TNBC sprang from the popularity of the teen sitcom Saved by the Bell, which centered on a group of six students attending the fictional Bayside High School in Pacific Palisades, California. Debuting on the network's Saturday morning lineup in September 1989, Saved by the Bell was a re-imagining of the short-lived sitcom Good Morning, Miss Bliss, which originated on The Disney Channel in 1988 (the predecessor series served as a starring vehicle for Hayley Mills, who unlike fellow series regulars Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Dennis Haskins, Lark Voorhies and Dustin Diamond, did not return for the retooled series). The success of the series – despite harsh reviews from television critics – ultimately persuaded NBC to restructure its Saturday morning lineup, cancelling all of the animated programs.
The revamping of the network's Saturday morning lineup began in August 1992, when it launched an hour-long Saturday edition of Today. Subsequently on September 12, the network removed the animated series from its Saturday morning schedule in favor of a new three-hour block of live action – mostly scripted – series aimed at teenagers, with Saved by the Bell (which entered its fourth and final season at that time) as its centerpiece, making NBC the first network to drop conventional children's programming (animated or otherwise) entirely. The following year in September 1993, this block officially adopted the "TNBC" brand. As a result of the retooling of the network's Saturday morning lineup, California Dreams, a sitcom originally centered on a family was retooled around a group of teenage friends (though retaining its focus around the show's titular band), from season 2 onward, setting the template for future TNBC shows to follow very similar formats.
Most of the scripted programs featured that aired as part of the TNBC lineup were sitcoms executive produced by Saved by the Bell showrunner Peter Engel such as California Dreams, City Guys, Hang Time, One World and the Saved by the Bell spinoff, Saved by the Bell: The New Class, the latter of which took over the timeslot previously held until its conclusion by its parent series. From its start, the lineup was designed to meet the earliest form of the Federal Communications Commission's educational programming guidelines defined under the Children's Television Act, with many of these shows incorporating very special episodes dealing with relevant teenage social issues such as underage drinking, drug use and sexual harassment.
Though Engel contributed heavily to the block, three comedy series he produced during its existence would not air on the TNBC block. Saved by the Bell: The College Years debuted on NBC in September 1993 (the same month that the longer-running Saved by the Bell: The New Class premiered), but aired instead as part of the network's primetime schedule; USA High, a comedy centering on a group of American students participating in an international school program, aired instead on USA Network (which coincidentally later became a sister network to NBC in 2004, through then-parent General Electric's majority purchase of USA corporate parent Vivendi Universal) from 1997 to 2000, and Malibu, CA, centering on a group of teenagers living in the titular Southern California community, aired in first-run syndication from 1998 to 2000 under a distribution agreement with Tribune Entertainment.
In addition to the scripted, two reality-based series aired during the lineup's history: the game shows Brains & Brawn and Name Your Adventure. Another non-scripted NBC show, NBA Inside Stuff (a supplementary program created through the network's NBA television package), aired directly after the programming block but was never an official part of the TNBC lineup.
In 2000, the Thomas W. Lynch-produced series Just Deal became the first TNBC scripted series not to be produced by Peter Engel since the short-lived 1993 series Running the Halls, and the first series to be shot in a single-camera format. The following year Sk8, also produced by Lynch, premiered on the block, lasting for one season before being canceled. By 2001, the block was suffering from declining viewership. On January 6, 2002, Discovery Communications entered into a time-lease agreement with NBC to produce a new Saturday morning block featuring original programs from the Discovery Kids cable channel. TNBC ended its run on September 7, 2002; the new Discovery-produced block, "Discovery Kids on NBC", premiered the following week on September 14.
Although the TNBC block regularly aired on Saturday mornings, due to accommodations for local programming scheduled by affiliates of the network or scheduling issues with regional or network sports broadcasts, some NBC affiliates deferred certain programs within the lineup to Sunday mornings, or during the block's early years, preempted them outright (with Saved by the Bell and Saved by the Bell: The New Class as nominal exceptions in the latter case).