Friday, January 8, 2010

NBC Tries to Fix a Self-Made Mess with Jay Leno/Conan Change #jayleno

Frankly, I never understood why NBC thought it needed to usher Jay Leno off The Tonight Show in the first place when they should have been locking him in for the next 10 years. No, I don't watch late night TV; but millions of people do, and they clearly watched Leno in droves.

But NBC wanted to replace him, for whatever brilliant network programmer reason, so they gave Conan O'Brien the Tonight Show slot (and Conan might be a wonderful person who nurses hurt kittens back to health and makes people laugh, but he's not Tonight Show material -- nor would David Letterman have been, had his early wishes been granted). And Leno got a new five-days-a-week 10:00 pm program.

Which tanked.

I'll admit that I thought Leno would have done better at that hour than he did, but the fact is that he didn't do well at all, despite NBC's claim that he is performing exactly where they thought he would and where they promised advertisers he would. The affiliates, however, were getting hammered because Leno was delivering terrible lead-ins to their 11:00 pm news; and no one was tuning into the end of their news to watch Conan.

So today it looks like Leno will get a 30-minute program at 11:35, and Conan will follow with a full hour. Oh, and NBC suddenly has to come up with five hours of quality 10 programming on short notice (so you know the quality will be great!).

They made the mess, they can clean it up.

UPDATE: Read reactions from Aaron Barnhart -- the original Late Night TV guru.

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