Sunday, January 10, 2010

NBC to Move Leno Back to Old Time Slot

The Jay Leno Show has been a ratings disaster.

NBC affiliates have complained of a sharp decline in their ratings for their late local news shows since Leno made his debut at 1o p.m. last September.

In response to these complaints, NBC has announced that Leno's last show at 10 p.m. will take place on February 12th. He will be given a half hour show which will start at his old time slot of 11:35 p.m. Consequently, Conan O'Brien and Jimmy Fallon's show will move to 12:05 a.m. and 1:05 a.m., respectively.

But it is unclear if O'Brien will play ball. O'Brien inherited The Tonight Show from Leno last June and has had difficulty competing with David Letterman. By moving Leno back to his old time slot one wonders if NBC is trying to push out O'Brien altogether. NBC has basically put O'Brien in a position where he has decline any part in this new arrangement. Both Leno and O'Brien have had ratings struggles yet NBC is rewarding Leno and punishing O'Brien. Speculation is that FOX is interested in O'Brien. Do you think O'Brien would rather stay with a network that sees him as a second fiddle or a new network that would welcome him with open arms? I think O'Brien will jump to FOX where he would compete head to head with Leno and Letterman.

It is worth remembering that when Leno took over The Tonight Show from Johnny Carson in the summer of 1992 he steadily trailed Letterman in the ratings. It would be nearly three years before Leno overtook Letterman after Letterman's atrocious turn as the host of the 67th Academy Awards. Leno beat Letterman in the ratings steadily for a decade plus. Yet both men stayed right where they were.

So why is Conan O'Brien getting the shaft? Could it be that NBC is angry with him for putting Sarah Palin on and presenting her in a favorable light?

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