NBC's critics might be having a party this week: NBC's new 10 p.m. shows are doing worse than "The Jay Leno Show" was doing in the same time slot a year ago.
Of course, we all might forget that "Leno" was doing worse than the shows he replaced a year before that.
Blame NBC if you want to -- and the outgoing administration. But I'm betting other networks aren't yucking it up. That's because 10 p.m. has increasingly become the time when people use their DVRs to playback other shows. That means tough work for the likes of "The Good Wife," "Private Practice," and "Law & Order: SVU."
Network researchers have known this for some time, and the practice will continue to get worse, especially now that 40% of U.S. homes with TVs are using these machines.
The irony is that one of the main reasons for putting "Leno" on at 10 p.m. in the first place was that viewers wouldn't be watching NBC's competitors, they would in theory watch NBC because "Leno"'s show would have be fresh and new every night -- especially during the seasons of many repeats in December, January and March.
More ripples headed NBC's way: the latest incarnation of Leno, back at 11:30, hasn't yet gotten anywhere near his pre-Conan O'Brien rating levels. More recently, Leno's "Tonight" show has been in a virtual dead heat with "Late Show with David Letterman" for viewers.
Still, you'd be hard-pressed to find any TV executive petitioning Leno to return to the 10 p.m. time slot. That's the way TV works. We pretty much forget the recent past, and quickly rush to the new fire closer to our programming home.
What we don't fully know is how Leno compares in those ratings that really matter to advertisers and networks pocketbooks: commercial ratings (C3). We're guessing he might still be ahead, since there is less time shifting of live talk shows than 10 p.m. dramas.
So I stand corrected: I do remember the recent TV past. NBC should only hope Comcast doesn't do the same.