Space Ramblings

NBC’s Perfectly Predictable Disaster

It didn’t exactly take a genius to figure out that Zucker’s plan to stack late night by putting Leno on at 10 and moving Conan into Leno’s spot would be a disaster. I predicted it myself. But just about anyone could have and would have. Conan is almost as awkward a late night host as Letterman, but more off putting because he’s never had to figure out Letterman’s trick for making himself come off more comfortably to older and more rural audiences.

Moving Conan up was a certain disaster. But so was moving Leno up. NBC had succeeded with those players in those time slots because they had locked in very specific audiences likely to watch TV at those times. Leno got the older people turning in. Conan got a younger crowd staying up. On the other hand moving Leno to 10 was a disaster because it cut into NBC’s more upscale audience looking to watch dramas and sitcoms, not the chin going on about octomom or obama or doing Jersey Shore shtick. Meanwhile Leno’s old audience got Conan, which was not in their comfort zone.

Trying to put the pieces back together may be the only thing NBC can do. Conan can’t continue connecting to the college crowd as well as he used to. And he can’t seem to grow up and pander to the AARP crowd and the soccer moms the way Leno could. Pushing him back means forcing him off the network, which moves Fallon up to take over Conan’s awkward comedy routine. Leno meanwhile gets to preside over the death of late night, while turning in declining, but basically profitable numbers, while jockeying with Letterman to see which of them will be the first to die.

Good times everybody.

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