Saturday, September 30, 2006

NBC's New Problem With Weakening Late Night Ratings

Problems just never seem to go away for NBC. Soft primetime ratings and the recent renewed primetime strength over at ABC have improved JIMMY KIMMEL enough that sometimes DAVID LETTERMAN is more closely within the ratings of JAY LENO than in years. And since the JIMMY KIMMEL show overlaps part of CONAN O'BRIEN after the strong NIGHTLINE lead-in, last Wednesday JIMMY KIMMEL was within just a few thousand viewers of CONAN O'BRIEN. CRAIG FERGUSON, which follows DAVID LETTERMAN is also showing new strength as well.

This is only the latest disappointment over at NBC. The much hoped for STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP has begun to disappoint more than a few viewers who may not care to watch again. And the excellent medical investigator drama, CROSSING JORDAN is being delayed while a second game show by the producers of DEAL OR NO DEAL is being rolled out in an attempt to lure viewers. The plan seems to be, if viewers aren't watching, then offer them money in at-home games to watch.

Up until this year, it seemed like the late night offerings of NBC were immune to the prime time ratings slip over the last few seasons. And since the airing of NFL football games is on Sunday for NBC, there is no carryover to the MOnday -Friday late night talk programs despite excellent monologues and guests on both LENO and CONAN.

For NBC this presents a new problem if the ratings slip becomes a chronic problem, and is not just a new TV season ratings blimb. NBC certainly doesn't need new problems that are difficult to turn around. It seemed funny for both LENO and CONAN to joke about the ratings problems over at NBC, except when your own show may be suffering from part of the audience erosion woes. Time will only tell how serious this new situation may become.


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