Saturday, December 13, 2008

Jay Leno To Host 10 PM Weekday Show on NBC

Perhaps people wonder why I'm blogging about Jay Leno on a financial site - let me assure you this news out Tuesday is a very big business story. I am still working on my 13 Outlier Predictions for 2009 but this announcement dovetails with one of them: Advertising/media are going to be in for a shock in '09 and the Leno move is a precursor. NBC can fill the same space on 7 nights for the same cost it would take for 1 night of a typical drama show. And unlike a series which lasts 1/2 to (at best) 2/3rds of a year - Leno can be run just about all year. It's an interesting gambit but it speaks to some very long term trends in media - the economic disarray is going to bring to light a lot of issues that have been festering in the background quietly - we are seeing it in sector after sector. But don't worry - Obama will fix it all ;)
  • On Dec. 9, NBC announced that the reigning king of late night will stay put at the network by hosting an untitled new gabfest at 10 p.m. every weeknight, starting next fall. Leno, who is set to step down from The ­Tonight Show on May 29, will pack the first-ever Monday–Friday prime-time talk show with signature bits like those corny “Jaywalking” segments and a stable of A-list guests
  • For NBC, it’s also cheaper. Leno’s new deal isn’t exactly a bargain — published ­reports put the new contract at more than $30 million a year — but it’s a fraction of what it costs to program a scripted series in the 10 p.m. time slot, which hasn’t launched a bona fide hit in four years. The average ­drama now costs around $3 million an episode to produce; Leno needs roughly $400,000 per night for his new show.
  • And unlike dramas, which air in originals only around 22 times a year, Leno can guarantee 46 weeks of fresh programming once he begins next fall. “Not only is the cost of the show lower, but we are offering advertisers a DVR-proof show that you can join in progress,”
  • While his current Tonight Show ­average of 4.8 million viewers is certainly less than what a hit scripted show would bring in, it’s more eyes than ­recent 10 p.m. NBC programs Lipstick ­Jungle and My Own Worst Enemy have been ­attracting.
  • “Networks aren’t what they used to be in terms of prime-time programming,” says media analyst Harold Vogel. “This is probably a better time to try than any time in the past. It has a real shot of working.”

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