NBC affiliates we’ve spoken to are happy about the early performance of The Jay Leno Show, though everyone knows a truer test will emerge when the initial interest in the new 10 p.m. show wanes, and Jay takes on the 10 p.m. heavyweights like The Mentalist and two of the CSI programs.
“We’re very pleased overall; Jay is a genuinely a very funny individual,” says WDIV Detroit GM Marla Drutz, who says Jay Leno won the 10-11 p.m. slot every night last week. “It’s done better as a lead-in than we’d hoped.”
General managers say NBC will continue to tinker with Jay’s format, and see which of his franchise bits work best to keep viewers tuned in near the end of the show. “We’re a little apprehensive about the last quarter, as there does seem to be some drain,” says WJAR Providence GM Lisa Churchville. “But they’re tightening the show up.”
Leno was of course packed with high wattage guests last week, and benefitted from the mega-campaign NBC threw into the rookie player. Viewership will drop, but the question is how much. The GMs I spoke to say they anticipate Leno staying relatively consistent, due to its topical material, and host Leno’s easygoing nature.
“It’s a good show to graze or join in progress–you can watch in between innings of a ballgame,” says Churchville. “I think that bodes well for us.”
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Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.