Is Jay Leno already (accidentally) positioning himself for ratings failure?

Categories: Broadcast TV,Featured

Written By

August 5th, 2009

jay-leno

Will The Jay Leno Show outperform CSI: Miami in the ratings even when CSI: Miami is in repeats?

Honestly, I doubt it.  CBS shows, particularly the Monday night shows, repeat very, very well.  The thing is, I'm pretty sure from NBC's perspective it doesn't actually have to beat CSI: Miami, even against a rerun, to make sense for NBC.   So it seems like NBC finds itself in the unfortunate spot of positioning itself for perceived failure even when the actual results are OK with them.

During Jay Leno's presentation at the TCA conference he copped that once The Jay Leno show is airing at 10pm, it's not going to best CSI: Miami in the ratings when CSI: Miami is airing original episodes.  That's a realistic view.

But NBC has  been spinning things for a while that  since most scripted shows only run 22 new episodes a year and The Jay Leno Show will run 46 weeks a year of new episodes, that the show would make up ground against repeats.  But there is a difference between narrowing the gap and catching up and passing.

"They'll get us on the straights, we'll get 'em on the curves," Leno said.

While I think it's true that  Leno's show will narrow the ratings gaps against repeats,  there will almost certainly be cases,  CSI: Miami being one of them, where Leno will get beaten by a rerun.

It's inevitable even if  Leno wasn't being outspoken about it, that the first time a new Leno airing loses to a repeat the media will feast on it.  But I don't see the upside in encouraging the "Leno Beaten by CSI: Miami Rerun" headlines.    He'd probably be better off just saying "I'll let the bean counters worry about the ratings..."

If  Leno at 10pm makes sense from a bean counting perspective even if the show averages a mere 1.3-1.4 adults 18-49 rating (and I think it probably does),  it seems a shame to wind up in a position where if CSI: Miami garners an adults 18-49 rating of 2.0 with a rerun, and Leno's show draws a 1.8 rating against it that the show will be perceived a failure.

But Leno and NBC seem to be setting themselves up for exactly such an outcome.

 
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