The Jay Leno Show (airing at 10pm weeknights) will go on hiatus on Feb 1 and Jay Leno will return to 11:30pm weeknights after the Olympics end, according to a report on TMZ.
NBC experimented with a late night comedy show before the local news in order to save money and because they really didn’t have anything besides Southland to put on at 10pm. (And we all remember how that turned out.)
The move to 10pm proved to be a poor lead-in to the local newscasts, prompting stations to complain about The Jay Leno Show experiment being a ratings disaster.
NBC hasn’t yet announced exactly how they’re going to be able to put Jay back at 11:30 since Conan O’Brien has been in that time zone since he took over The Tonight Show from Leno. It would likely go the way of one of these possible scenarios:
- NBC moves The Jay Leno Show to 11:30, but shortens it to a half hour and then runs The Tonight Show at 12:00 and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon at 1am.
- NBC moves The Jay Leno Show to 11:30-12:00 and also shortens The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien to a half hour from 12:00-12:30. Jimmy’s show stays the same, cause everyone’s already sleeping anyway.
- NBC moves The Jay Leno Show to the 11:30-12:30 slot and Conan’s Tonight Show moves to 12:30-1:30. (This is probably the least likely scenario, since Conan fought for years to get the 11:30 slot and would almost definitely not go back to 12:30 on NBC.)
- NBC gives The Tonight Show back to Jay Leno and Conan gets the $50 million buyout in his contract and is free to entertain offers for the 11:30pm slot on ABC or FOX.
You’d have to figure that if scenario #4 happens ABC would jump at grabbing Conan for 11:30 and push Jimmy Kimmel back to 12:30 to compete with NBC and CBS. Conan – Kimmel? I would so watch that!
And FOX would love to have Conan at 11:30 to have a late night comedy show that would actually COMPETE. (Remember The Magic Johnson Show? Enough said.)
While it remains unclear as to which path the network will take, one thing is crystal clear: NBC doesn’t know what the hell they are doing.