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NBC Went To Oprah Before Leno for Prime Time

  • TV Week, Thursday, May 21, 2009 9:30 AM

NBC offered its 8 p.m. timeslot to Oprah Winfrey before deciding to put Jay Leno in prime time. NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker says NBC talked to Winfrey about two years ago. She passed, but said she might have considered it earlier in her career, he says.

NBC also discussed an 8 p.m. show with David Letterman when the "Late Show" host's contract was coming up at CBS. Zucker told affiliates on Wednesday, that even back in 1981, research was done on moving the "Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson to 10 p.m.

The most popular show at 10 p.m. now is TiVo, Zucker says, referring to the amount of time-shifted viewing at that hour. NBC and ABC average less than a 2 rating among adults 18- to 49 in the time period year round; CBS averages somewhat more than a 2. "The Tonight Show" often beat NBC's 10 p.m. shows, especially with reruns, and Leno is expected to be doing original shows 46 weeks a year.



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