Well Played, NBC

Ironic Conan is happy for Jay and NBC

Hey, remember when NBC moved Jay Leno to 10 o’clock, hampering Conan O’Brien’s move to “The Tonight Show” helm? And then Leno and NBC squeezed Conan out after only seven months on the job? Which led to a $45M payout for Conan and his staff, a lionization of O’Brien by the Internet community, and a big national tour during which O’Brien agreed to start a new late-night show on TBS this fall? Yeah, good times. Regardless of whether or not you like Conan, it’s impossible to deny that he’s come out of this well, succeeding as both victim and hero.

So, how about NBC and Leno? How are they doing?

For the first week since Jay Leno’s Tonight Show return, he was tied by David Letterman’s Late Show, as both shows averaged a 0.9 adults 18-49 rating for the week of June 7-11. Coming off a week of repeats for both shows, Leno fell a tenth of a point and Letterman gained two tenths.

That put Leno’s Tonight Show two tenths of a ratings point below Conan O’Brien’s Tonight Show ratings trend, comparing the ratings for each show’s fifteenth sequential week.

It was 0.6 ratings points below the same calendar week of Conan’s Tonight Show ratings last summer. Interestingly, Letterman’s Late Show had the same rating as it did for the week a year ago. [TV by the Numbers via WWTDD]

In plain English, that means that no matter how you measure it, Jay Leno is performing worse as the host of “The Tonight Show” than Conan O’Brien did. And Leno doesn’t even have the disadvantage of having Leno as a lead-in. Although I wouldn’t put that idea past NBC.

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