[opendtv] News: Leno Will Stay At NBC In Prime Time

  • From: Craig Birkmaier <craig@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: OpenDTV Mail List <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 9 Dec 2008 08:53:51 -0500

NBC is now saying that it may cut back on prime time programming hours to reduce the high cost of scripted and unscripted reality shows. Further indication that the old programming formats are dying.

As I have said for years, the strength of network TV is live event coverage, especially sports, although this area is also seeing declining ratings, perhaps due to the glut of live sports coverage these days.

So what can NBC do to cut costs.

Looks like moving Jay Leno into Prime Time may be the next step...



Leno Will Stay At NBC In Prime Time

Saving on high-scripted TV production costs and retaining a valuable asset, NBC will be keeping Jay Leno--giving him a radical new Monday through Friday 10 p.m. prime-time talk show starting in the fall of 2009, according to published reports.

Long-suffering NBC--down by double-digit percentages in prime-time ratings among 18-49 viewers--expects to announce that it is keeping Leno. In 2004, NBC said Leno would be retiring from his "Tonight Show" job in 2009, to be replaced by "Late Night" host Conan O'Brien.

NBC executives did not respond by press time. News of the deal was first broken by Deadline Hollywood Daily late Monday.

If true, NBC would be making a far-reaching move for one of the three big networks--getting out of scripted/unscripted programming in a major prime-time period. All along, NBC said it was looking to find another arrangement to keep Leno in the family,including something in prime time.

This news follows public comment by Jeff Zucker, president/COO of NBC Universal, that because of the worsening economic conditions, NBC could be looking at trimming back on the 22 hours of prime-time television that network has programmed for decades.

Many TV watchers were increasingly skeptical of the Leno-O'Brien switch--especially because Leno was still, far and away, the ratings leader among all late-night talk shows and other programming. Speculation was that Leno would move to ABC or Fox, starting up a late-night talk show.

If Leno gets an expected $40 million to $50 million a year for a new one-hour Monday through Friday evening talk show, NBC could save perhaps $50 million to $100 million dollars a year in traditional and programming and development costs, according to analysts.

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