Tag: The Tonight Show with Jay Leno

Leno’s return to ‘Tonight Show’ yields underwhelming ad prices

Jay Leno

According to Joe Flint of the Los Angeles Times, a commercial for Jay Leno’s reclamation as host of “The Tonight Show” on March 1 will only cost $35,000. A few years ago, $50,000 was the going rate. Flint cites the competition from the other late-night talk shows, digital video recorders, and the availability of clips on the Internet.

Audience erosion

Indeed, as late-night shows like those hosted by Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert sprouted on cable, viewers have gradually tuned out the networks’ counterparts. The combined audience for NBC’s, ABC’s and CBS’ late-night programs has fallen 20% from five years ago, according to Nielsen Co.

More troubling: The group of viewers 18 to 49 years old — the spend-happy cohort that sponsors most want to reach — has plunged 36%.

Spending money

One of NBC’s arguments in moving Leno into prime time was that, although his show would garner fewer viewers than a drama, its lower production costs would lead to higher profits.

But that doesn’t mean a late-night retinue of producers, writers, stagehands and assistants — O’Brien’s “Tonight Show” employed 190 people — plus the host come cheap.

Letterman and Leno each pull down more than $30 million annually, said people familiar with the productions, and O’Brien earned $12 million. ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel makes $8 million to $10 million, these people said.

The price drop is completely understandable. There are more late-night talk shows now than ever before and they need to do this to stay afloat. If one show is charging less, another will have to do the same unless its ratings are dominant. Of course, the advertisers aren’t complaining.

“The Jay Leno Show” – The Post-Premiere Wrap-Up

At last, it has arrived.

Just last week, in our Fall TV Preview, I wrote of the impending premiere of “The Jay Leno Show,” “This is the most controversial maneuver in the past several decades of television history, a Hail Mary by the people at the Peacock,” so as a TV critic, there was no way I was going to miss Jay’s premiere episode. Having now seen it, I am absolutely unsurprised to report to you that, aside from a change in set, there’s virtually no different between the feel of his work on “The Tonight Show” and his work on “The Jay Leno Show.”

Really, though, this can’t be a surprise to anyone.

Although I always picked Letterman over Leno in the late night wars, I never disliked Leno. He was always hysterical whenever he turned up on “Late Night with David Letterman,” so I was thrilled for the guy when he made the transition to Johnny Carson’s regular guest host and turned that into a gig as Carson’s full-time replacement. But you can like a guy without actually watching him, and although I can see the appeal that Leno offers to mainstream audiences, I just prefer my comedy to be a little bit more off-center.

Rest assured, there was very little outside-of-the-box comedy on display in the first episode of “The Jay Leno Show.”

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