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Jay Leno, who loves ya baby?

by Danny Gallagher, posted Dec 16th 2008 1:02PM
Jay Leno's move into primetime surprised just about everyone with a television and a central nervous system.

NBC's Tonight Show chair might have been the throne of late night royalty, but it's not an aristocracy. That assumption caused the infamous late night fiasco when Johnny Carson retired and pushed David Letterman to CBS. It's that same assumption that has everyone's jaws dropping out of their ligaments.

But just like the Super Bowl, little league baseball, or a hottest-wet-buns-in-jeans contest -- there must be winners and losers. Here are the people who should and shouldn't be loving Leno right now.

Loves Ya: Jimmy Fallon - It's no coincidence that NBC announced Leno's new time slot so close to the same week that Fallon started marketing his own show. No matter what you think of Fallon's comedy, the man has his work cut out for him. Craig Ferguson is slowly starting to land some punches in Conan's corner by inking a few ratings wins, and that can spell trouble for a lightweight. Having a heavy hitter who can knock a few teeth before Fallon tags in helps.

Loves Ya: Advertisers - The men on Madison Avenue are drowning the streets with Pavlovian drool over Leno's new time slot. Broadcasting and Cable says that late night charges advertisers 30 percent less than primetime does. Leno is a trusted name to advertisers because he's been so consistent with his ratings. So Madison Avenue's best and brightest will suck down one less carton of Lucky Strikes to calm their frazzled nerves when his Tonight Show contract runs out.

Loves Ya: Conan O'Brien - Conan is thrilled Leno is staying and with good reason. Without Leno, Conan wouldn't have had time to build a steady audience of his own and establish his own footing in late night. Now he can enjoy that comfortable lead-in when both move up the ranks of the late night ladder, even if he'll still have to look at Leno's butt the whole way.

Doesn't Love Ya: Primetime Television - Comedies and dramas have been facing big cutbacks, and Leno's lurch into the primetime schedule means other networks will follow suit if he's successful. That will leave even less room for scripted shows. Cable has picked up the slack and scored more than one hat trick. But the chances of the next big primetime sitcom or drama appearing on free TV are smaller than Testees' chances of sweeping next year's Emmys.

Doesn't Love Ya: ABC - Right now the folks at the Alphabet Network have to be slapping each other in the head for not jumping at the big chinned one sooner. New York Times television reporter and Late Shift author Bill Carter told NPR that ABC could have easily scooped up Leno. The network has found some success with Jimmy Kimmel, but not at the level of Leno or O'Brien, who didn't have to #*$& Ben Affleck to get where they are right now. Speaking of getting #*$&$ed ...

Doesn't Love Ya: Conan O'Brien - O'Brien has a lot to benefit from Leno's decision to stay. He also doesn't get to take the reigns of the most coveted late night spot in the history of the known universe. O'Brien seems like a nice enough guy and wants to let the good outweigh the bad, but it's taken some of the buzz out of his own move. It will also make it hard for O'Brien to get the A-list celebrities on his couch with Leno scooping them up. Now I'll never get to see Triumph the Insult Comic Dog call Tom Cruise "nuttier than my stool after a Payday bar" in my lifetime.

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"Then its 15 lost hours of prime-time every week."

If Jay is successful it will be even worse than that. Wonder what that Katie Couric primetime news incursion was all about? Primetime is under pressure from both early and late and will probably go the way of the dodo. Any scripted shows will survive in niches here and there, most likely cable, and the only way to keep track of their furtive existence will be via Tivo season pass.

February 12 2009 at 2:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I tend to agree with Al, that names don't really matter and that everything is just being slightly shifted. People who are real fans of the Jay Leno or Conan O'Brien shows will still watch them at the earlier time. People who normally watch TV at their new times may also watch them. So over all, NBC will have a net gain.

I am confused as to what will air between 11 and 11:35...it it's lame, it could eat into Conan's viewership.

Another "Love Ya" (what?) missing from this article is NBC - which will save a Lot of money by having Leno come on earlier.

Dr. Tantillo, who blogs on brandin g( http://blog.marketingdoctor.tv ), did a post last week on the shift from broadcasting to narrowcasting--television just doesn't present the same ad value it used to, and more and more, what is interesting (to advertisers precisely because it's interesting to consumers) is niche marketing.

Full post: http://blog.marketingdoctor.tv/2008/12/10/marketing-advisory-jay-lenos-move-to-prime-time-and-the-shift-to-narrowcasting.aspx

December 21 2008 at 1:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Loves Ya: People who shop at Wal-mart.

Doesn't Love Ya: Anyone with good taste.

December 16 2008 at 9:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Jim's comment

You could say that about any show on network TV except 30 Rock.

December 17 2008 at 3:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

How about they move Dave to 9PM on CBS? Honestly, I'd love it (I get up early for work) and maybe people would get their fill of LateNight to the point of not tuning in to Jay.

December 16 2008 at 3:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This move is really just shifting everything up an hour. Leno goes from 11:35 to 10, and Conan goes from 12:30 to 11:35 - forget the name of the shows, that doesn't really matter anyway. The only changes I see are people going to sleep after "their show" (either Leno or Conan) so the real winner is "more sleep". People who watched Leno are still going to watch Leno (but not watch Conan), and people who watched Conan are going to keep watching him.

December 16 2008 at 2:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You forgot a big 'Hates Ya' - The viewers who don't want to lose 5 hours of prime-time on a major net, even if it's just NBC. It's just that if enough idiot Nielsen families watch Leno, then the other 2 big nets will be next in line trying to copy them. Then its 15 lost hours of prime-time every week. I guess technically it'll only be 12 since Fridays don't count. But that is still 12 potential good shows that we could be losing.

December 16 2008 at 2:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to MERVE-THE-PERVE's comment

Hating Leno seems to go with this board, but hating him because NBC is giving up 5 hours of dramas is ridiculous. If NBC had ratings success at 10 (or 9, or 8) they wouldn't have done this and Leno would have gone to ABC. Don't blame Leno because people aren't watching NBC at 10.

December 16 2008 at 6:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

People keep on saying "Leno lead-in to Conan" "Leno lead-in to Conan," when there's 30 minutes of ratings-failing news between them across the country. If anything, I think the "lead-in" will hurt Conan.

December 16 2008 at 1:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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