Jesus Christ, does Jay Leno have photos of Jeff Zucker with a dead hooker? I mean, seriously, how much can one man fuck a network over before you realize whatever ratings he gives you aren't worth it?
I'm not going to recap too much of the back story here, because we all know what's been going on, but let's take a look at how this move to Leno in prime-time five nights a week has cost NBC:
- They lost the 10pm drama slot, once a staple for their more innovative, challenging and successful shows. Want examples? How about ER? How about Law & Order? How about Hill Street Blues or LA Law?
- They screwed over a show with the potential to become one of the hits listed above; Southland. The hard-hitting cop show was produced by John Wells, the guy who produced ER and The West Wing.
- It completely undermined both Conan O'Brien and The Tonight Show brand. Look, Tonight is THE late night show. It's the peak, the tops. How could Conan look like the King when the previous King is his lead-in. And you don't endanger The Tonight Show. You just don't do it. Don't make it look small. Steve Allen started that show. Jack Paar worked there. It was Carson's home. Whoever you install in that chair should be your late-night guy. He should get all your attention. The last thing you do is make him look like he's wearing Dad's suit by putting his predecessor on right ahead of him.
- Finally, NBC fucked their affiliates. They use the 10pm slot as lead-in for 11pm local news. Well, with people switching off Leno in droves, the affiliates were losing pretty much all their viewers. It got so bad that a number of affiliates finally threatened a revolt. They threatened to drop Leno, or even NBC.
Look, if you've got a bad show on one night, then people won't watch that night. If you have a bad show on five nights a frickin' week, then you've really got a problem. But NBC stuck with him, which made them look completely insane.
The solution is to cancel the show and get the best stuff you got on in its place. But NBC chooses to move Leno to 11:35, bump The Tonight Show from it's slot (for the first time in decades!), putting Conan at midnight, and put Fallon at the ungodly hour of 1:30 or something.
Is Conan not pulling in the ratings he should? Possibly, but he might have done better without competition on his own network.