NBC Affils Launch Study to Shape 'Leno'
Concerns remain about 10 p.m. talk show as late news lead-in
By Michael Malone -- Broadcasting & Cable, 3/23/2009 2:00:00 AM
Hoping for unprecedented input into Jay Leno's fall primetime program, the NBC affiliates board has launched an exhaustive research study designed to keep local newscasts from suffering due to the network's decision to move Leno to 10 p.m. A committee that includes Scripps TV Senior VP Brian Lawlor and Post-Newsweek Stations President/CEO Alan Frank is awaiting results of the survey.
“NBC has promised the affiliates' input into the structure of the show, and we believe this research will help us represent the key drivers that will best flow a Jay Leno viewer into affiliates' local late news,” Lawlor says.
Of course, how much Leno and NBC will listen is up in the air. An NBC network spokesperson declined to comment.
Affiliates were split on the idea of Leno taking over the 10 p.m. slot when it was announced in December, many fearing it will never be a ratings smash in a time slot vital for serving up viewers to local late news.
So the study was put forth, including one question asking viewers how 13 elements of The Tonight Show With Jay Leno figure in their decision to tune in. The parts include Leno's monologue, celebrity guests and “Jaywalking.” Another one asks viewers if watching local news plays a part in their decision to tune in to The Tonight Show.
The survey will conclude in the coming weeks. “Once we get our arms around the research, we'll sit down with NBC and figure out what we both want to see and what decisions will be made,” Lawlor says.
The affiliates board is adamant about addressing The Tonight Show's tendency to lose viewers toward the end, which will be partially mitigated with Leno on 95 minutes earlier in the fall. One survey question zeroes in on how long viewers watch Tonight, offering 11 different points for tuning out. Respondents are asked if they stick around through the first or second guest, whether they watch through Jay's “Headlines,” whether they watch until the end, or even stay on for Late Night With Conan O'Brien after Jay.
Affiliates board chairman Michael Fiorile says the study will help reveal what the ideal length of Leno's monologue would be, what time the monologue should air and how the program's breaks should be structured.
The affiliates board meets April 21 in Las Vegas, and the NBC affiliates themselves meet May 19 in New York. The affiliates have frequently clashed with the network in the past, primarily about NBC's inability to jump-start its primetime offerings.
But they were pleased to hear that their board would have a say in the Leno show's architecture. Board members say NBC is in the loop on the research project, and that network-affiliate relations have been constructive.
“NBC has been very receptive,” Fiorile says. “They're giving us a say, and they've been very open to our participation.”
If you move the evening news to 10pm (9pm CST) you have really not given Conan a promotion, 'cause he's still running second to Leno. This would probably allow Conan an out and he'd leave. Also you'd be giving back an hour of prime time to local affiliates. This means in a few years when NBC recovers they couldn't get the time back. All it takes is one hit show, like "Cosby" or "Desperate Housewives" etc, to turn a network back around.
Eric Post - 3/24/2009 11:55:28 AM EDT
I must say I was very leery about NBC doing this as a way to cut costs and keep Leno from bolting to ABC but to me, this move will not work for many reasons as this is not the 1960s anymore, where talk shows in prime time did work but in this day and age, it won't suffice and Conan is going to have a hell of a time trying to duplicate Leno's late-night success and that also affects Fallon's show too. Many jobs in management will be on the line if this thing tanks, which I think it will and maybe they'll bounce Zucker and Silverman once and for all and clean house there.
Richard - 3/23/2009 8:58:33 PM EDT
I contend when you have an exceptional newscast as WIS-TV, you don't worry about lead-in shows as viewers will always switch to a quality product. Personally I feel Leno will do well with his variety-type, decent hour show and will be a worthy "opening act" for the news at eleven. My view, which I value highly! Joe Pinner
Joe Pinner - 3/23/2009 8:51:37 PM EDT
Michael A. Bucciferro - 3/23/2009 2:57:00 PM EDT
Launching a study on how to not ruin the ratings for late newscasts is hardly a ringing endorsement for the new Leno show.
Michael - 3/23/2009 10:34:54 AM EDT
No related content found.
No Top Articles