Friday, April 3, 2009
Wasn't it just a couple weeks ago that NBC reported that they were meeting with their affiliates to work together to make sure the new Jay Leno show met expectations. Well I guess the Boston affiliate, WHDH, couldn't work out an arrangement. They have now publicly stated that they will air a 10pm news hour rather than the national Jay Leno Show feed. And NBC is obviously mad as hell. "Ed Ansin, who owns WHDH's parent company, told The Boston Globe he did not believe Leno's new show would be successful. He said the station would do better financially with a news show that competes with Fox-affiliated WFXT-TV's highly rated 10 p.m. newscast." NBC says that WHDH is contractually required; WHDH says otherwise.
What the Boston affiliate hasn't said, is what they will air at 11pm. It doesn't seem more news so maybe will be a syndicated sitcom. WHDH believes they can make more money with news at 10p than with Jay. And as the Tonight Show starts at 11:35, WHDH could extend this news show from 10 - 11:05 to keep viewers from switching and then go right into a 30 minute sitcom. And if WHDH is obligated to run the show at some other time, they may choose to move it further into the early morning or weekend hours. Who says it has to be run at 10p.
Deadline Hollywood has more of a take on the story. They offer another interesting perspective. "NBC also trotted out Michael Fiorile, the NBC Affiliate Board Chairman (and Vice Chairman of the Dispatch Group) to give Jay a vote of confidence: 'The NBC affiliates are very excited about the new Leno show weeknights at 10 p.m. Jay is a true star with enormous appeal. We've been engaged in an open dialogue with NBC about the format of the show, and we’re looking forward to working with Jay and the entire team to make it a huge success.' But the sad truth is that the same Michael Fiorile was telling media outlets at the end of 2008 that NBC's beleaguered affiliates had asked the network last summer to give back time, and maybe even days, to them. And to give local content a shot. "
NBC could offer the block to another channel or to its Telemundo affiliate, although that suggestion seems less likely. When you start to cut costs, you sometimes cut more than just the fat, you cut the quality as well. Watch how more expensive news readers and TV reporters are being replaced with younger, less expensive talent. But when it comes to prime time, quality matters. "Estimates are that Leno 2.0 may only cost $2M a week and result in 46 weeks of original shows, compared to the average $3 million per episode pricetag of scripted primetime dramas that air on average 22 original weekly episodes. But the 58-year-old attracts only 4.8 million viewers now on The Tonight Show -- measly by primetime standards, especially in the advertiser-coveted 18-to-49 demographic. The affiliates know that expanded local news or local ballgames might hit a higher number than Leno or NBC's weaker nights -- which is no doubt why WHDH made the decision it did. "
A Jay Leno prime time variety type show could work...ONE day a week. But five nights will only chase viewers away to other channels. WHDH may be the first to announce, but may not be the last.
Posted by Andy Hunn