Jay Leno Goes Prime Time!

A few years ago, when the network broadcasting system began to show cracks, it would have been unthinkable for one of the three original networks to put a strip show (one that airs nightly) on at 10pm.

But, these are even more trying times today. The network system is broken. It took years, but, with barely 22 hours of original hours for a prime time series, 19 minutes of ads and promos, a larger cable / satellite universe, the Internet, mobile and other entertainment distractions, one of the three networks had to do something.

NBC was put into a very difficult position four years ago when it announced that Jay Leno would step aside next June, 2009 so Conan O’Brien would take over “The Tonight Show”. NBC didn’t want to lose Leno, but there were few options.

NBC’s prime time performance continues to lag. For most of the 1980s and 1990s, NBC dominated. Those days are long gone.

By creating a nightly vehicle in prime time for Jay Leno, NBC keeps Leno from haunting them at another network, (ABC?); it helps the lead-in for the late news on its affiliates, which need a strong lead-in, and the network slashes program development costs. The bottom line is it’s a smart move. Whether the revised format works, is another question. No doubt the program will skew old, but so does most of network television.

NBC changed the rules of the game a bit. It had to.

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