Now Leaner with Leno, NBC Attracting Suitors

Another week, another view on the Leno EffectNBC’s experiment with the primetime talk show has taken an early beating in the ratings and media coverage.  NBC continues to pledge support of the format for the entire year.  In a very good write-up on the three week status of the Leno Show, the New York Times reminds

And all of this is playing out against a backdrop of reports that General Electric is in talks with Comcast to sell NBC Universal.

A Debate About Whether Leno’s Show Is Good for NBC – NYTimes.com

And when you throw in today’s rumors

But GE, which has been pressured by investors to offload its 80% stake in NBC Universal, is considering a host of proposals for NBC Universal, as partner Vivendi SA whether to sell its 20% stake.

News Corp, which owns the Fox TV network and the Wall Street Journal, had been seen as a less likely bidder, analysts have said, because taking a stake in NBC might raise antitrust concerns with the U.S. government.

Liberty Media has been seen as possible bidder for a minority stake in NBC Universal because of its history of taking minority stakes in big media companies.”

News Corp., Liberty interested in NBC Uni

NY Times stated that Leno has delivered on NBC’s expectations:

  • pull NBC ahead of some ABC dramas
  • deliver the ratings promised to advertisers
  • make money in the 10 PM slot

Going into the season, the 10PM time slot was a weakness on the schedule, so NBC gambled.  Rather than lose him to a competitor, figuring their best offense was a good defense,  Leno got 10PM all to himself.

While once a critically acclaimed drama powerhouse in that time slot, NBC has been mired in last place.  They are quick to point out that all scripted shows suffer there, that hour is a favorite for viewers to catch up with what’s on the DVR .

So they are following the playbook of any good business that wants to get acquired.  You’ve seen many sports teams run these plays as well.  They rid themselves of high priced talent and cutting costs to make themselves attractive to prospective buyers.

So for now, Jay Leno can keep joking about it.  If he keeps up the good work, he better hope his new bosses appreciate his work.

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