For NBC, which had promised to give Leno a full year in the 10 p.m. time slot, “It’s certainly a little bit of egg on the face,” Levine said.
Mediaweek analyst Marc Berman called the network’s gamble on Leno “the biggest fiasco in the history of television.”
“What they didn’t realize was that the people who watched Leno in late night were not necessarily the same people who watched in prime time, so there was no reason to believe that his audience would follow him to prime time,” Berman said.
Meanwhile, the O’Brien-helmed “Tonight” lost about half its audience “and actually really hurt late night, which is a big profit center for NBC,” Berman said.
Moving “Tonight” — which has held its current slot for decades — back a half-hour is likely to hurt the show, and Berman predicted that NBC will be unable to keep all three hosts.
“My guess is down the road, they will give back Leno the ‘Tonight Show,’ leave it on at 11:35 p.m., and Conan will move to Fox,” he said. “But if I was either one of those gentlemen, I would be looking elsewhere right now.”
I did give Conan the benefit of the doubt when he moved into the Tonight Show, but it was the same generic bullshit humor that I came to expect from Leno.Â Honestly, nothing had changed.