Ever since NBC announced that The Jay Leno Show would take over its weekdays from 10-11pm, there has been entertainment industry push back against the idea. However, since the season began we've seen on our site (and I have read lots more elsewhere) a surprising level of anger expressed over the show.
Would the anger have be the same if NBC had, instead, put Dateline NBC on from 10-11pm weekdays?
I'll try and distill some of the different anger causing points vs. The Jay Leno Show, and compare them with potential alternative reaction to Dateline NBC.
- It's putting actors, writers, show runners, and other dramatic creatives out of work. Dateline would do the same, but presumably would increase the demand for news writers, producers, camera operators, etc.
- It's removing 5 of the critical 18 (Sunday-Friday) 10pm broadcast primetime hours that were traditionally used for the most leading edge dramas. Dateline, having already removed Friday at 10pm, would only be taking 4 hours, but I doubt this would reduce the anger.
- It will ruin the Tonight Show. While Dateline would likely produce similar 10pm ratings, (Dateline Friday averaged a 1.5 demo rating last season), it wouldn't create booking conflicts or potential talk show fatigue vs. the Tonight Show.
- The Jay Leno Show is ruining the rest of NBC's primetime ratings. I think this charge is nonsense, but perhaps Dateline would be subject to the same nonsense.
- It canceled my favorite show! Maybe My Name is Earl fans could make that claim, Dateline would have done the same.
Ultimately, I think that a similar Dateline move would have generated less anger. One reason for the Leno anger is that it can be directed at a single identifiable person (Jay), whereas who is the face of Dateline? Plus, I don't think it would be, at least publicly, as acceptable to criticize "news" programming, as it is a talk show.
And we know for a fact that ABC has considered putting news programming on at 10pm 5 nights a week (they already do Fridays), but as Robert has astutely guessed, they very well might mix their brands on different nights (Primetime, 20/20, Barbara Walters) so they could make the public claim they weren't "doing what NBC is doing".