I've seen it on Twitter, and in our blog comments, and I'm sure if I'd bothered to tackle my RSS reader yet today, I'd be seeing it there too. The Mentalist beat The Jay Leno Show in total viewers (8.7 million to 8.5 million). But is it a big deal, little deal, or no deal at all?
You will of course make your own judgments. By itself, I don't think it's any deal at all. Yes, NBC has been telling the media that part of the beauty of The Jay Leno Show is that it will run 46 weeks a year of new shows. So while CSI: Miami might beat up on it in original episodes, Jay will strike back when it airs against the reruns. I believe that is true in the sense that Leno's performance against repeats will be better than it is against originals. But I don't take it to mean NBC expects Leno to win, even against CBS repeats.
Having looked at the numbers pretty much every day now for the last two years, it will be commonplace for Leno to lose in total viewers to CSI: Miami, CSI: NY and The Mentalist. In fact, except for special occasions/special guests, I'd guess those repeats will almost always beat new episodes of Jay Leno in total viewers.
Is that any cause for panic? No. NBC looked at the numbers every day for the last two years too. I'm sure they know what to expect.
But when things level out with The Jay Leno Show's ratings, I wouldn't be surprised if repeats on CBS sometimes, or even often, won in the demos too. CBS shows often perform well in repeats with 18-49 demographics in the low to mid 2.x range. I can see a scenario where a Mentalist repeat pulls a 2.6 and Leno does a 2.0. I can see that scenario very easily.
Does it matter? Well in the sense that NBC might have set themselves for this by playing the "we'll do better against repeats" card, it might matter, but otherwise no. Because NBC will be thrilled to be getting a 2.0 with The Jay Leno Show four months down the road, even if it's getting beaten out by a repeat on CBS.
Despite high anticipation and a great first week, NBC expected better profit margins, but better profit margins in this case can (and do) also come with lower ratings expectations. I agree with Bill Gorman completely about this:
I have to believe that NBC is OK with anything in the 1.5-2.0 18-49 demo rating range for Leno on a weekly average basis, and those CSI show repeats exceeded that often last season. Of course, this season could show more CSI erosion, but that remains to be seen.
As a bit of an aside, I found the exchange between Travis Yanan and TV Bill on Twitter very interesting. I'll leave you to contemplate it:
@travisyanan In that A50+ demo, LENO (5.0/11) was also beat by MENTALIST repeat (6.2/14). But yeah, lead-in for Jay in that demo was 2.6/5!
@TVBill well, CBS *always* wins in 50+... so Mentalist R number doesn't surprise me! but that's big growth for TJLS in 50+ vs lead-in