Jay Leno's move to 10 p.m. has opened up many questions -- about advertisers, scripted TV writers, and programming
But what about NBC's marketing to the viewer?
TV viewers are a savvy lot -- and no doubt have already formed a few opinions. TV news stories about Leno's move to prime time
are in abundance, including his own version of the news
on "The Tonight Show."
The first marketing factor for the transition should
be: Don't alienate loyal Jay viewers. The second: Plan to get some new viewers. Starting now, the network
will be closely following viewer
reaction, blogs, and Internet buzz. NBC will also have nine months to play around with it.
The "early" Jay is a tricky scenario. Should NBC send out the message that "an earlier Jay will
mean more sleep tonight"? That may not be too helpful for Conan O'Brien, who comes on later, taking Leno's spot as host of "The Tonight Show."
We are told "The Jay Leno Show" will
look different from "Tonight," though there will be guests, a monologue, and sketches. NBC is going to have to dig to find new nuggets to draw in new watchers. Touting "Jay Walking" segment might not
NBC executives are anticipating that even if the new show equals "Tonight"'s current ratings -- at a 1.7 number among 18-49 viewers -- that would be enough to break even.
But that's seemingly less than NBC gets in prime time right now.
This brings up another big-picture marketing question: If Leno is getting less-than-prime-time ratings now, how will this
affect the promotion of NBC's other prime-time shows? NBC's marketing efforts will become that much harder for existing shows or to help launch new shows, something we all know NBC desperately
Perhaps the easiest messaging might have to do with what consumers already do during the 10 p.m. hour on weekdays -- watch other TV shows on a time-shifted basis.
marketing line might be, right at 9:59 p.m.: "Wait. Don't touch your DVR or that 'CSI' menu. Jay is fresh and new. Right now."