Loved Johnny, but never been a fan of Jay Leno. I know that we miss the 10:00 drama slot, when edgier shows than what can be shown during kid-friendly time slots can be shown. It comes to me as no surprise that his ratings are tanking and that the affiliates are grumbling.
Jay Leno's move to prime time was viewed by some as a savvy show business decision. A popular, well-known comedian, the former host of the Tonight Show would provide NBC with a cheap, talk-show alternative to the network's previous line-up of dramatic programming, which is costly to produce.
After a solid start last month, ratings have a slipped to a quarter of what they once were. That has local news programs nervous, as they count on viewers of 10 P.M. shows to stick around for the 11 P.M. news. Viewership of 11 P.M. newscasts has tanked in more than three-fourths of the top 56 metered TV markets, falling an average 13% in the first four weeks of the season.
NBC's ratings slippage is leaving some local station managers to predict that the clock is ticking on Leno, and that he may be out of a job by February should ratings not improve. That would not surprise me a bit.
Currently, NBC is standing by Leno, saying that the reasons behind ratings fall are bigger than the lantern-jawed comedian himself. The strategy sounds similar to one CBS adopted when Katie Couric took over the CBS Evening News in 2006. However, it is one thing to mess with a 30 minute network news slot, versus an hour of prime time viewing, which leads into the evening news. Without the affiliates, the networks are nothing.