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Earlier Tonight

by David Gura
Dec 9, 2008

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Bill Carter, of The New York Times, broke the story last night: "NBC will keep Jay Leno five nights a week, but in prime time, competing not with David Letterman, but with shows like 'CSI: Miami.'"

In his article, he noted that it is a risky move for NBC:

There have been no new hits at 10 p.m. on any network in almost four years; ratings for shows in that time slot continue to fall.
Mr. Leno's shows tend to fare best in their first half hour; if they were to decline too much in the second half hour, NBC's affiliated stations would see their news shows adversely affected. And there may be some question about whether Mr. Leno's show at 10 might diminish the stature of [Conan] O'Brien's "Tonight Show" at 11:35.

This must be sad news for O'Brien, who has wanted to host an 11:35 p.m. talk show for years. In 2004, NBC announced that Conan O'Brien, the host of Late Night, the program that follows the Tonight show, would be Leno's heir apparent. In the intervening years, with Leno's ratings still high, NBC executives reportedly worried about this scenario: another network stealing their star when his contract expired, then having him compete with NBC's new Tonight host, O'Brien.

How did you take the news? If you're a Leno fan, what are you going to do with the time you'll save? Sleep? If you favor O'Brien's shtick, as I do, what say ye?

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