TV & Showbiz

The Late-Night Fallout Continues

When NBC announced it was moving Jay Leno to prime time and Conan O’Brien to its venerable Tonight Show, plenty of people predicted disaster.

Both the network’s 10pm hour and Tonight Show took a ratings hit.

Just as predictable, it seemed, was the announcement that Leno would be moving back the show he’d held since Johnny Carson’s retirement, which resulted in a public relations nightmare as O’Brien walked away from the peacock.

But here’s the real surprise that far fewer saw coming: four months after taking back the Tonight Show, Leno’s ratings are actually behind those of O’Brien.

That means Leno’s show is now costing NBC $10 to $15 million more than O’Brien’s show did.

And the surprises keep on coming: it’s not CBS’s Late Show with David Letterman that has quietly slid into the number one slot, but ABC’s Nightline.

Who knew?

But where are Leno’s viewers? They claimed they didn’t like Letterman, and they sided with Jay over Conan…so why aren’t they flocking back in droves now that there man is back behind the desk?

Did they just start going to bed earlier? Are they switching to Nightline just to wait through until Jimmy Kimmel’s show hits the air?

Are you watching the same late-night fare you did before the debacle? If not, what changed for you?

the authorPatrick
Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.


  • Mondays with HEADLINES has for a long time been the only time we'd really watch Leno, so we started back with that. Otherwise, I don't think he's funny most of the time, and Letterman's shorter punchier monologue is better. Agreeing above, Ferguson is greatly underappreciated. For that matter, Jimmy Fallon got the raw end and is better than the 11:30 hour as well.

  • When I choose to turn the tube on for late night tv, it's for Craig Ferguson. Leno just bores me these days. Who knew? Certainly not the programming brain trust (you can see the tongue-in-cheek, can't you?) at NBC.

  • Interesting post. Personally, not having watched Leno, I never had to go back. But here's the strange thing: when Leno left the Tonight Show, I stopped watching Craig Ferguson. When Leno returned to the Tonight Show, I started watching Ferguson again. The correlation escapes me, but there it is.

Comments are closed.