NBC Affiliates Give Jay Leno Show Ds and Fs As Lead-In to Local News

Last Updated Dec 22, 2009 9:30 AM EST

With rumor, speculation and innuendo floating around the performance of "The Jay Leno Show" for months now, Broadcasting & Cable magazine decided to put something concrete around how the five-night-a-week NBC show was doing -- by letting NBC affiliates give it letter grades. The results, in a poll of a dozen affiliates, is that the show gets a "D" or "F" when graded on its ability to prove a solid lead-in to local news. The good news -- if it can be called that -- is that it gets a gentleman's C in terms of content.

While B&C notes that affiliates aren't yet calling for Leno's head -- they still like the guy -- there are some jaw-dropping declines in the 10 p.m. hour on some local stations, based on the crucial November sweeps period which helps stations determine their advertising rates. For instance, KVCB Las Vegas has lost nearly half its audience -- 48.4 percent -- at 10 p.m. compared with a year ago, free-falling from a 6.4 household rating/10 share to a 3.3/5. That's so bad it almost qualifies as good news that the local news dropped by only 11.6 percent during the same time period. Woo-hoo!

Given that Comcast just bought a majority stake in NBC Universal, one wonders if that will hasten the change that seems inevitable surrounding "The Jay Leno Show" -- whatever form it might take. What I'm about to say is fairly simplistic, but nonetheless is how business often works: NBC's new owners now have their egos tied up in making the network work, as opposed to former owner General Electric, which recently was more interested in strategy. On the surface at least, the whole business strategy around "The Jay Leno Show" was more GE (i.e. produce something cheaply and realize a healthy profit margin), than it was Comcast. While it's true the network doesn't add as much to NBCU's bottom line as its cable channels, what would be a more high-profile way to show you mean business than fixing the "Jay Leno" mess? I can't think of one.

Previous coverage of "The Jay Leno Show" at BNET Media:
  • Catharine Taylor

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