Monday, September 14, 2009

The Jay Leno Experiment Starts Tonight

Jay Leno

My Variety take on how "The Jay Leno Show" would impact NBC and its rivals in success -- or failure:

What if it works? What if it doesn't?

NBC finally takes the wraps off "The Jay Leno Show" Monday night -- and just about everyone inside and outside the Peacock expects a big turnout on day one.

It's what happens in the following weeks and months that is anyone's guess. Once the initial interest in the primetime "Leno" wears off, talk will likely turn to whether it's actually a success -- and what sort of impact it has had on rivals ABC and CBS.

The bar already has been set pretty low for the show overall, with the benchmark expectation that it will average a 1.5 rating in the 18-49 demo. NBC insiders hope the debut at least matches what the finale of "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" did in May, a 3.4.

Considering that Fox's relatively unknown "Glee" pulled off the same rating for its premiere last week, it would be a shock if Leno couldn't at least match that number.

More likely, "Leno" will do at least a 5 rating (something that some NBC execs are more realistically expecting) -- or perhaps even higher.

"I'm sure they've already written the press release for the first night," said one rival exec. "For the first week there will be plenty of lookie-loos. We're not going to know for a while."

Read on here.

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