Jay Leno may be leaving The Tonight Show, but he won’t be leaving NBC anytime soon. In an announcement forthcoming from NBC Executives, Jay Leno will get his own primetime show on the network, beginning in the fall of 2009, and running as a nightly telecast. With Jay Leno stepping down as the host of The Tonight Show, NBC was very worried about him moving to another network, and has offered him a lot of money to do a nightly show in primetime. With Conan O’Brien soon to take over as the host of The Tonight Show, it was unclear what Leno would be doing, but after this announcement, it seems that NBC is going to completely re-tool its primetime broadcasts in the fall.
This may turn out to be an extremely brilliant decision for NBC, and one which other networks try to model themselves after in the very near future. With the rising costs of trying to produce a typical 10pm show, the slumping economy, and the lack of any guarantees with new programming, taking a commodity like Jay Leno, and giving him almost free-reign over an hour in primetime could be a genius move. For one thing, it will make a time slot static for NBC, and cut costs on production by only needing one set and no real supporting cast to support the show. Sure there will be costs to go along with production, but by putting the resources squarely behind one show rather than 5 per week seems like it could be a move with no risks involved.
This current season of ER is its last on television, and that leaves NBC without a 10pm show on Thursdays. Add to this the fact that they have been struggling to find programming for Mondays and Wednesdays, and it is almost a no-risk venture to give the 10pm slots to someone like Jay Leno, who can bring with him a formula that has led to a lot of late night success over the past 15 or so years. He knows what he is doing, and has consistently been able to win his time slot against David Letterman, so it would stand to reason that his audience would follow him to an earlier slot in the schedule. By bringing back some of the flavor that made The Tonight Show such a success for him, primetime could turn out to be even more lucrative.
There will be some questions about how Conan O’Brien’s Tonight Show will look when he takes it over in May, but it is probably safe to assume that he will take a lot of the same skits and humor that have made The Conan O’Brien Show do so well with him. Jimmy Fallon will then be taking over his 12:35pm time slot, and bring an all new flavor and style to the later show. NBC is looking at a lot of changes when the Fall 2009 season comes around, but it almost seems like the stars are lining up to present them with a hugely successful format that other networks will be scrambling to copy.
Initial Source: Announcement