Monday, January 11, 2010

NBC's Unprecedented Late Night Blunders

NBC moved Jay Leno from 11:35pm back to 10pm only about 6 months ago. Conan O'Brien moved from 12:35am to Leno's old slot at 11:35pm as host of The Tonight Show. Conan has been working for NBC since 1993, when David Letterman left to get his 11:35pm show at CBS. The ratings for Leno at 10pm have been really bad, and he gets beat night in and night out, especially by the CBS dramas like CSI:Miami, CSI:NY and The Mentalist. His numbers are about what they were at 11:35, but in prime time those numbers do not fly. The numbers need to be there to get decent ad rates, and to keep the affiliates happy. Now NBC wants to end this little experiment and move Leno back to 11:35pm. His show may be only 30 minutes, putting Conan on at 12:05am. If this is the case, Jimmy Fallon would move from 12:35am to 1:05am assuming Conan's show is 60 minutes. If I were in Conan's shoes I would jump ship to Fox. ABC has Nightline at 11:35pm and Jimmy Kimmel at 12:05am, so Fox is probably the best bet. Maybe NBC should drop the unfunny Leno all together. I assume they will go back to dramas from 10-11pm on NBC and the affiliates are hoping their newscasts will get better numbers once Leno vacates after the 2010 winter olympics. Conan is not hurting for money. He gets $20 million per year for the next 4 years. Still, Conan has paid his dues, he deserves to be on at 11:35pm, and this is the biggest network blunder I can recall. Sure the networks have put on many shows that have flopped, but this was a 5 night per week, 10pm-11pm experiment that failed miserably. Their justification is that a talk show is cheaper to produce than a scripted show. But, what good does that do if the ratings are poor and you are affecting your affiliates numbers for their newscasts which provide a major revenue source? The once mighty peacock network has fallen a long way from the days of must see TV.
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