NBC considers Leno back at late nights
Updated: NBC confirms Leno will no longer air at the bold 10pm timeslot on NBC from mid February, leaving question marks over the network's programming.
US media commentators are all speculating what NBC will do with The Jay Leno Show, widely perceived as a scheduling failure since it moved to the competitive 10pm timeslot. In the US, 10pm is still prime viewing where shows like Brothers and Sisters, Castle, Ugly Betty, Private Practice, Criminal Minds, The Good Wife and CSI: Miami all air.
Moving Leno to 10pm was considered the boldest programming move of the Fall Season, with Hollywood Reporter recently including his switch in a retrospective story on the decade’s biggest blunders.
NBC knew Leno‘s shift would take time. In September CEO Jeff Zucker said, “We’re going to judge this on 52 weeks.”
But after 17 weeks, the network is mulling an idea to return in to 11:35pm, shortened to 30 minutes, with The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien to bump back to 12:05pm. Affiliate stations also want Leno back to late nights, claiming it has cost them revenue.
Such a move would leave the network looking for 5 one hour fillers, with pilots in development not ready until Fall 2010.
O’Brien is said to be unwillingly to move quietly, while the FOX Network is already waving its hand with interest in him.
Even Leno gagged about what might happen if he got the axe.
“I hear FOX is beautiful this time of year,” he said during Thursday night’s monologue while O’Brien joked how when he arrived on the studio lot on Friday Leno‘s car was parked in his spot.
Meanwhile CBS has benefitted from NBC’s blunder,with CBS President of Entertainment Nina Tassler saying it has helped her network “get a bigger piece of the ad revenue pie at 10 p.m.” CBS is said to be “very close” to extending contracts of late-night hosts David Letterman and Craig Ferguson well into 2012.
In Australia both NBC shows air on the Comedy Channel while 7TWO moves The Jay Leno Show to midday from next Monday.
Updated: NBC has now confirmed as of February 12th, Leno will no longer air at 10pm. As to the future, it remains unclear. The network does want him at 11:35pm for half an hour but as this impacts on Conan and Jimmy Fallon the situation is still unclear.
NBC Universal TV Entertainment chairman Jeff Gaspin said, “While it was performing at acceptable levels, it did not meet our affiliates’ needs. My goal right now is to keep Jay (Leno), Conan (O’Brien) and Jimmy (Fallon) as part of our late-night lineup. As much as I’d like to tell you we have a done deal, we know that’s not true.”