Jay Low

jayThe rumors are flying fast and furious that NBC is getting ready to pull the plug on Jay Leno at 10pm. Yesterday NBC said:

“Jay’s show has performed exactly as we anticipated on the network. It has, however, presented some issues for our affiliates.”

That’s a little like saying icebergs presented some issues for the Titanic.

Back in April I railed against NBC’s plan to put Jay Leno at 10pm. This was not just me blowing hot air, but a matter of personal interest.

At the time it was my job to get people to watch the news on WNYT. I was a little worried that five nights a week of Jay Leno would send the station’s 11pm news spinning down the toilet. To be honest, I was mostly worried that Jay Leno would somehow become my problem.

When the show premiered in September my worst fears were confirmed: it stunk. And since the fall Channel 13 plunged from its once dominant position at 11pm. Some people say that a 10pm show has little to do with late news success. That may be —and perhaps it’s just a wild coincidence that NBC stations everywhere are suffering .

Give NBC credit. They figured out they can make money with Leno’s low ratings because it’s so cheap to produce compared to hour-long dramas. To bad it was at the expense of their local partners.

15 thoughts on “Jay Low

  1. I never cared too much for Jay Leno anyway. I only liked it when he went onto the streets asking people questions or showing them photos and nobody knew the answers. It was a bad idea right from the start and Kanye West on the first night didn’t get it off on the right foot either.

  2. I was surprised that NBC put all their 10pm eggs in 1 basket. I was never a big fan of his show and prefer the dramas that other channels have shown. There was some quality shows that came out this year and NBC seemed to miss the boat. I say drop him. ratings will go up just showing Law and Order reruns!

  3. Natch it’s just TV, and I represent only one demographic: 49-year old white males who’d consider top-shelf dramas and documentaries if there’s no Yankee game. We’re doing other stuff at the same, not watching in rapture.

    But I gotta think that five nights of Leno at 10:00 needs me, or expects me, or hopes for me. It has no shot at my daughters or any of the 20- or 30-somethings I work with.

    And NBC has an advantage here, since the only channels I know on my T-W dial are 13 (NBC), 11 (PBS) and 67 (YES). On Sundays I magically remember (at 9:00a) that 10 is ABC and (at 7:00p) that 6 is CBS, but then lose all knowledge of them till next Sunday.

    So I’m livin’ with 11, 13 and 67, on in the corner, vying for more than casual attention and rarely getting it. For me, 13’s chances were much better at M-F 10:00p when I might’ve scored an L&O I hadn’t seen or wanted another look at. Now I click away to PBS and, even it’s not one of the eight pledge months at WMHT (freakin’ train wreck, that), I’m not going back to 13 tonight. Leno ain’t Carson, and Charlie Rose or John Stewart will be on in an hour anyhow, if I’m still up. And I will be.

    All this to say that the week-long five-hour Leno grid is for me an obstacle, a blackout — not a touchstone.

    OTOH, so’s Kambrich. Seriously. Never understood that call. So who’s the winner here? Hulu. TiVo. BT. Work. Porn. Commenting on blogs. Even bed.

    Network TV broadcasting would like to preserve channel-based viewing patterns. In fairness The Leno Experiment is a near-term pattern disruption. After three years of ratings pain it *could* establish a new crowd pattern and be the best late local news lead-in mankind has seen, but that’s a long time to wait and there are a lot of dependencies. I suspect that Jay (a good broadcaster, actually) knew he’d need more time than he’d likely get, but took a shot on spec.


  4. Bruce Springsteen had it wrong: the truth is that there are 57 channels and everything’s on. That’s what’s killing local TV.

    What NBC did was apply the cable model to it’s broadcast network. It worked! They created a niche show which was a hit —if you measure it against cable ratings.

    An interesting experiment? Yes. Good for local TV? In the words of John Stewart, not so much.

  5. Sam: Agreed —but in the context of news and cable and TV today, I think the Daily Show is an apt reference. Besides, kids have no idea who Paul Reiser is.

  6. Hey, good for the affiliates that they were able to get the suits at NBC to change direction.

    It seems so hard to believe that all the smart people involved with television production cannot come up with a quality show that is inexpensive to make, yet still attracts viewers.

    It’s all just derivative crap. Probably because it’s all focus-grouped to death.

    I like the idea of networks taking risks. But I agree that the Leno idea seemed doomed from the start.

  7. > I thought it was Paul Reiser on Mad About You that popularized,
    > “Not so much.”

    Really it’s just something that folks like my immigrant grandparents would say — maybe yours, too. Good-enough English, gets the job done.


  8. ONE MORE THING: NBC gave affiliates an unprecedented amount of time during Leno that was to be used for the sole purpose of promoting the 11pm news.

    They sold the show as an spring board that would allow you to do an amazing triple somersault into the ratings pool.

    If it seemed like you saw a lot of news spots during Leno, it was not your imagination. Unfortunately, those work better when there’s an audience.

  9. > What the hell is NBC going to run at 10pm, anyway?

    The Legend of Kambrich: Afrika! In loincloth and Crocs, Jim wanders a post-apocalyptic Dark Continent on an unending search for white bread and a point-of-view.

    Now that’s a lead-in. Okay, okay. I’ll stop now.


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