It was hailed as a groundbreaking move last year when NBC decided that it would replace all of its 10pm weeknight programming—usually hour-long dramas that were expensive to produce—with Jay Leno’s talk show. Networks watched to see what kind of ratings Leno, and Conan O’Brien his replacement at 11:30, would receive and if this was the wave of the future for primetime TV. If the first five months of ratings are anything to go by a 10pm talk show format is NOT the wave of the future—Leno’s ratings are tanking, as are O’Brien’s, and NBC is considering a serious shakeup. What’s the future hold for Leno, O’Brien and the 10pm time slot?
Robert Thompson, director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University