Some executives on Madison Avenue are breathing a sigh of
relief that NBC is addressing its Jay Leno problem in the hopes the broadcast
network will program something stronger in the 10 p.m. slot. The network is
reportedly considering alternatives for the much ballyhooed The Jay Leno Show which launched in
September 2009. Those options include
moving the variety/talk show to a late night slot and potentially shortening it
to a half hour. Little has been said about what might move in to the 10 p.m.
slot if that happens.
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."
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
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,
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.