Jay Leno's Real 10 p.m. Debut Starts This Month

Jay Leno, now step up to the mike!


 The real worth of your show to NBC will finally get its true test. That is: Will you be getting better ratings now that everyone else is in reruns?

Part of the logic of putting on "The Jay Leno Show" at 10 p.m. was that viewers with no new network programming in periods like December, March, and the summer months, would turn to Leno because of his fresher, DVR-proof programming.

Turns out the highest-rated TV shows at 10 p.m. on the broadcast networks is whatever is on your DVR machine. Or at least that's the case for about a third of the country that has DVRs.

Good news for Leno is that in recent weeks his ratings have stabilized -- or have gone up slightly -- versus earlier outings.



Any improved ratings will help soothe ever-louder grumblings from NBC station affiliates -- who already had a rough year, with lower local TV ad revenues. That's on top of more recent general overall declines in their late local newscasts that run right after Leno's show ends.

The DVR issue has always been a double-edged sword for TV networks.

On the one hand, the time shifting hurts their scheduling, their financial arrangements with advertisers. But on the other, they get paid for that extra viewing -- in part any way, through C3 guarantee advertiser deals that include commercial ratings plus three days of DVR playback.

For many cynics, NBC has been up to no good for some time, and, with Leno, could be getting its just desserts in time for Christmas -- or in time for a preliminary closing of the deal to sell NBC Universal to Comcast.

But it depends on your point of view -- just like that Bud Light commercial. Nicer critics say NBC is a network run by profit margins (Too light!). Meaner foes say NBC is a network run into the ground. (Too heavy!).

Critics probably won't get the reference anyway: They are too busy fast-forwarding through commercials.

1 comment about "Jay Leno's Real 10 p.m. Debut Starts This Month".
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  1. David Scardino from TV & Film Content Development, December 2, 2009 at 2:54 p.m.

    Wayne, you've nailed it once again. For all the bloviating about Leno, this--when he's on opposite reruns--will be the truest test, so far, of NBC's strategy.

    Of course for those who wanted the question, "Will Leno work in primetime?" answered back when NBC announced the move a year ago, well, no doubt they've moved on to "Who Will Be the Next Oprah?" (if not "Just who did invite that couple to the White House...?").

    C'est la vie, baby...!

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