In one of the riskiest strategies in television history, NBC has scheduled The Jay Leno Show to run five nights a week. The other networks have publicly scoffed at the plan but they’re also waiting to see if it’s a success. If the show pulls in big ratings over the long haul, you can just bet the other networks will try something similar.
As expected, last night’s premiere of The Jay Leno Show attracted some very hefty numbers. Approximately 17.66 million viewers tuned in with a 5.1/13 rating/share among the 18-49 demographic. That’s over 13 million more people than were watching an edition of Dateline a year earlier.
After a Summer of build-up and hype, these ratings aren’t a surprise. In addition to peaking viewers’ curiosity, NBC carefully placed the debut in the plum spot behind a two-hour edition of America’s Got Talent. They also took care to introduce Jay Leno before the other networks debut their new season.
The real test of course will be to see how Jay Leno performs over time.
Naturally, NBC hasn’t said how low the numbers have to go before they start to make changes. But, considering that the program is cheaper to produce than most other primetime fare, they may be happy with third place with occasional bumps in viewership. If the ratings go too low, the network would likely try running the show just a few times a week.
As to the show’s content, the reviews have been middle-of-the-road at best. As he was on The Tonight Show, Leno is very affable and his comedy is likely only to offend politicians and crazed celebrities. It’s safe, non-challenging programming and that may be just what people want at that hour of the night. We’ll have to wait and see.
What do you think? Did you or will you watch? Would you make a point to watch it over some other show? Will it reduce the size of The Tonight Show audience?
Image courtesy NBC.