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.
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?