Monday, September 07, 2009

Jay Leno May Face A Guest Shortage, But a Programming Advantage

There are pretty good rumors that competing networks such as ABC, CBS and FOX consider Jay Leno's new prime time 10PM program to be enough of potential threat that they've banned their own network stars from appearing on his show. All of this might lead to something of a celebrity shortage that Leno might be filling with new comedy segments. Leno will always draw celebrities out to promote new films. However, if some competing networks don't allow their celebrities to appear, it might be a little tough to fill out the schedule.

Leno's new program will have a different look than his old show, so don't expect just a 10PM version of his old show. One good example is a new ongoing comedy segment featuring acclaimed comic D.L. Hughley called Stories "Not Good Enough For Nightly News". Another promising new comedy bit features celebrities competing in something called "Green Car Racing". Two Australian comics will have a new segment in which they invade the personal space of unwitting victims for laughs. Leno also promises to spend less time behind a desk and have more Q&A interaction with the audience as well.

However, the big question remains will this new 10PM comedy lead to a trend of less expensive dramas on TV and more cheap to produce shows like this. Some networks such as CBS have an excellent quality, expensive to produce nightly 10PM drama airing every evening except Saturday, which is the only throw-away night of the week for the networks. If Leno creates too much competition CBS and ABC might have to rethink what the 10PM means for network programming. But for cost-conscious NBC the idea of a lower budget program like a 10PM version of the JAY Leno suits them fine.

NBC also derives other benefits from a 10PM version of Jay Leno. After Leno decided to retire and hand over the TONIGHT SHOW to Conan O'Brien, he began to have second thoughts about retirement. Almost immediately stories that both ABC and FOX began to court Leno began to surface. By adding a new PM slot for Leno, NBC was able to keep him in their camp and satisfied, besides being able to dramatically cut TV schedule production costs. For NBC, it was a pure win-win proposition. Leno could potentially be NBC's best bet for a new program on this Fall Schedule.

Now the the big question remains whether audiences will tune in for a 10PM version of Leno. If the new show draws big numbers, then NBC betted right. It might also be that many aging viewers might just find an earlier version of Leno more to their liking than staying up later for Conan who appeals more to younger viewers. NBC might have just betted right on this.


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