NBC made the announcement this Sunday that THE JAY LENO SHOW will officially end on February 12, 2010. Leno will then be moved to the later 11:35 time slot, while NBC hopes to keep both Conan O'Brien and Jimmy Fallon on board, while moving them to later time slots. There is no word about Carson Daly or the late night poker program that NBC now airs. But to shore up badly sagging ratings, NBC has decided to shuffle the chairs on the deck.
NBC has high hopes that Conan O'Brien won't quit because of the demotion. This week NBC reportedly offered him the ultimatum, to either accept the 12:05 time slot or to quit the network. NBC cannot fire O'Brien because a clause in his contract offers him a $50 million dollar bonus. There was some talk that several other networks might have an interest in acquiring Conan O'Brien should he decide to quit NBC.
As much of a disaster as THE JAY LENO SHOW has been in the ratings, sometimes only drawing as little as 3 million viewers, NBC has actually made money off the show because it was so cheap to produce. But the problem was that the network was being steamrollered with the far better 10pm dramas on CBS and ABC crushing NBC in that time slot.
NBC hoped to cut costs by putting on a cheap show like THE JAY LENO SHOW in primetime. But viewers solidly rejected the concept. NBC Universal might have shot itself in the foot by ending the highly rated and acclaimed MONK series over at the USA Network to cut costs as well. By going cheap, NBC only invited in disaster and the ultimate deal to bring in Comcast as a buyer as GE sought to reduce their interests in the dying network.
NBC hasn't been managed very well lately, and dropping ratings and advertising revenues as a result of the absurd costing cutting moves by the network only badly backfired. Can NBC comeback? Comcast will give it the good old college try. Maybe, some good new 10pm dramas will help.