With "The Jay Leno Show" now at 10 p.m., NBC stations have gone south. Big market stations like KNBC Los Angeles and WMAQ Chicago are down double digit percentages in the key 25-54 news viewers.
So what? Who really wants to be told they are right? But as business consultant Tom Peters might say, recognizing one's mistakes is only the first step: "Now, what are you going to do about it?"
To buffer the expected wave of dissent, NBC looked to limit the blow by giving some extra commercial time for stations to sell. But in sucky advertising markets, getting more low-rent inventory isn't exactly a plus.
New executives at the top -- Jeff Gaspin, chairman of NBC Universal Television Entertainment -- might change some of this. If not a major overall, perhaps they could at least look for an alteration, maybe after the February sweeps once NBC is through its Vancouver Winter Olympics programming.
To be fair, NBC has delivered as promised so far. "Leno" is earning around 1.5 to 1.7 ratings among key adult 18-49 viewers, with few DVR-ing. But this is little solace. The end result remains the same: NBC limits its downside, but also limits its upside.
Possible new majority owner Comcast Corp. might like this financial scenario, for future considerations. Turn NBC into a cable network -- one with a dual revenue stream? That's something a cable company can love.
But NBC isn't ready to part with the traditional NBC affiliates -- not when local TV outlets still provide all that local on-the-ground promotion.
Maybe some NBC affiliates will take up the baton of that rebel NBC affiliate in the Boston area, WHDH-TV -- this time en masse. Upon hearing the initial news of Leno's move to 10 p.m., that Boston NBC station wanted to do its own bit of time shifting for Leno's show -- into a weaker time period.
At some point, NBC stations might say, "What do we have to lose?" Then NBC network chiefs might at least think about some cheaper-than-drama programming -- "Dateline NBC's" at 10 p.m. perhaps -- to tie in better with local TV news shows.
I can hear the rain on the windows right now.