Madison Avenue On Leno: About Time
Ad execs wonder what might be next at 10 p.m.
By Claire Atkinson -- Broadcasting & Cable, 1/8/2010 12:14:16 PM
Agencies had expected the network to stick with the show until the fourth quarter this year, but few are surprised by a possible change. "I think it's better they're fessing up," said Gary Carr, head of national broadcast at TargetCast, New York, "For the last six months they've been saying its doing fine."
MediaVest USA's John Spiropoulos, senior vice president and research director, said The Jay Leno Show has rated anywhere between a 1.3 and a 1.5 rating in the 18-49 year old demographic. That's close to the NBC advertiser guarantee of an average 1.5 rating. "At the end of the day it just wasn't a show that drew the ratings that primetime needs right now," said Spiropoulos, "Especially at NBC they need to build momentum and this just created downward momentum." He added: "They need to bring in content that people want to watch in high numbers."
Carr continued that a healthy NBC is what the buyers are rooting for, since strong competition among broadcasters helps advertisers strike better deals and gives them more options. Commenting on the strong possibility that NBC will move the Leno show out of primetime, Carr said: "Everybody knew that could happen, everybody said it will do what it will do [in ratings] and that it will provide a lousy lead in for the news and that sort of happened."
According to figures from Advertising Age, NBC commanded just $53,640 for a 30-second spot on the show, compared to $98,909 for a scripted show My Own Worst Enemy, that ran in the time slot in the season previously.
Shari Anne Brill, director of programming at Carat, said: "Everyone's talking about what they're doing at 11:30 p.m. But what are they doing at 10 p.m? Of course we don't know if any of this is true. I'd ask Carnac, the magnificent."
Indeed NBC has said little officially about the potential switch only that they would improve The Jay Leno Show and were committed to Conan O'Brien, who currently occupies Jay Leno's former slot at 11.30 p.m. "It's a big deal whenever there is a shake-up on a schedule," said Brill. "I wonder what is going on there and what the affiliates are saying."
Separately, NBC might have to have some interesting conversations with buyers after arguing that Jay Leno ought to command a primetime rate rather than a lower late night rate. It's not clear how far NBC pushed that argument given that advertisers who agreed to take a significant chunk of Leno in their program mix received better discounts.
Ford Motor Co. a big sponsor of the show, may be disappointed by the possibility of Leno moving out of its primetime berth. The company had a big presence in the show and had its racetrack featured regularly on air. Reps for Ford were not immediately reachable at press time.
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