Jeff Gaspin’s announcemennt of Jay Leno moving from 10 p.m. and back to his comfy 11:35 latenight spot was the result of an affiliate revolution.
Gaspin said the network would’ve been content with keeping Leno at 10, as was the original business plan of creating cheaper primetime programming, despite relatively poor ratings. Affils, however, couldn’t continue to bleed ratings and ad sales and Gaspin was clearly forced to act sooner rather than the projected 52 weeks that was part of the original plan.
Now the forthgoing strategy is dependent upon if Conan wants to remain at NBC. He’ll still have “The Tonight Show” franchise and be part of its illustrious legacy, but will it be a tarnished crown? Is having “The Tonight Show” at midnight hold the same luster as having it air a half-hour earlier?
He could say enough’s enough, and tempt fate with a possible move to Fox, but by doing so he’s risking substantial coin and Fox might decide it’ll go in a different direction.
Gaspin says he’s waiting for all the parties — including Jimmy Fallon, who will have to move his show to 1 a.m. if Conan agrees to the midnight shift — to think it over a few more days before anything can become official.
Peacock would like to move forward with the transition of the end of Vancouver Olympics, a natural break for latenight programming following the Games.