In case you’ve been going to sleep early these days and you’ve been missing all the buzz on both Facebook and Twitter about what’s going on in the late night TV world, NBC “Promoted” Conan O’Brien to the big chair of late night, The Tonight Show. But for some reason, they wanted to keep Jay Leno in the NBC fold and put him in a prime time 10 PM slot before the local news. The reasoning for this is very simple. Producing one show with one star is 100 times cheaper than producing five quality prime-time shows with multiple casts, crews, directors and teamsters for five 10 PM prime time slots.
After a very short run, a simple domino effect is in play. Leno “failed” in the 10PM time slot which led to lower ratings for the local news and lower ratings for The Tonight Show. NBC Failed to provide good shows before the local news. And now, it seems that rather than accept responsibility, the NBC execs have thrown the blame on Conan.
Was this Conan’s fault? Maybe a little. He didn’t ask about the prime-time line up and his lawyers didn’t go through his contract with a fine tooth comb. Conan has a pretty iron clad contract BUT they missed the detail of what time the new Tonight Show was supposed to start.
“I believe that delaying The Tonight Show into the next day to accommodate another comedy program will seriously damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting. The Tonight Show at 12:05 simply isn’t the Tonight Show.” – Conan O’Brien
“I left NBC prime-time the same way I found it: a complete disaster.” – Jay Leno
Considering what happened when Johnny Carson left the Tonight Show and the fallout between Letterman and Leno and now with the flip flop between Leno and Conan and back to Leno again, NBC is losing trust within the industry and Loyalty with its viewers. And if NBC screws over Conan after what they did to Letterman the last go around, who’s going to want replace Leno AGAIN? If Leno failed in a prime time slot why is NBC giving him a 30 min show at 11:35 going to help the Tonight Show or NBC? What’s the point? Carson didn’t do anything to compete directly with the Tonight Show when he left. Why let Leno compete at all?
This can either go down as the biggest disaster in TV history; bigger than when NBC passed Letterman over for the Tonight Show gig, bigger than when NBC Let Star Trek the original series die in 60s, or it’s a fiendishly brilliant viral marketing plan to boost NBC’s lagging ratings (wishful thinking on my part, but we can hope right?).
Where is everyone’s Brand Loyalty? Is it with NBC, Leno or Conan? There’s no apparent popular effort to bring Leno back to the Tonight Show – but there is a whole lot of buzz on the Social Media web sites in support of Conan. Simply put, NBC would be stupid to let Conan go. He would most likely end up on either Fox, ABC or, even worse CBS, where he could team up with Letterman and later on replace him on his show. Everyone in Late Night is getting a leg up except for Leno and NBC. Needless to say, I’m with Coco.