Sunday, April 05, 2009

The Leno Effect

I have been following the news regarding Jay Leno's new fall show and NBC's fall format. Leno will be on 5 nights/week, at 10pm Eastern, spelling the end of "drama at 10pm".

I like Leno, but am not a big enough fan to tune in on a regular basis. The Tonight Show is also on at 12:30am here, being 1h ahead of the Eastern time zone. It's not often that I can't sleep, so I rarely am awake to watch his show. On the odd times I happen to catch it, I do enjoy his monologue, headlines, and Jaywalking. I may tune in more often now that he'll be on at a better hour for me, just as I'm heading to bed; sometimes I stop and watch a few minutes of TV before hitting the sack.

NBC is taking a big risk with this format. Will it succeed? I don't think there are enough die-hard Leno fans to keep this show at a viewership level that would be acceptable to NBC. I think the other networks are sitting back, drooling over the 10pm slot, planning to put their best efforts into destroying NBC. Because this is such a big commitment, NBC will let Leno continue for at least half a season before replacing it at midseason. One can only assume/hope that NBC has replacement shows in the wings if this gamble turns out to be a losing effort.

Perhaps the gamble will work and we'll start to see copycats. I'm not totally negative about this situation; any new show that isn't "reality" programming is a welcome relief these days. I've had enough of D-list "stars" dancing, skating, rehabbing, and slobbing their way across my TV screen.

What prompted me to dust off my blog today (in addition to it being Sunday and I actually have time to write) was this article. Since I am in Canada, my local cable company chooses an network affiliate for each US network. A few years ago, we switched from the closest US location (Bangor, ME) to various locations. My FOX comes from Rochester, NY, ABC from Detroit, CBS and NBC from Boston. WHDH is thus my NBC affiliate, and if it chooses not to carry the new Leno, the first question that came to mind is whether my cable company will give me a new NBC feed. It is the responsibility of my cable company to provide me with a US network feed that provides network programming, and if this station does not do so, will Rogers make a change?

Back when all of our networks were Bangor affiliates, the broadcast signal was unreliable and crappy at best. NBC was station to stay on the longest, but the signal reliability was so bad that eventually that station also had to be replaced with a more reliable signal. With the recent US change to all-digital programming, that is no longer an issue. I have to wonder: will we get a Bangor station back on the air in this area?

I missed having a US network affiliate that was closer to my geographic location. Though I don't live in Bangor, their news and advertisements are sometimes relevant because I visit there on a semi-regular basis. Perhaps the station has a news story about Calais, or an advertisment for a new store in Bangor that will make me want to drive 3h to shop. And don't discount the humor that comes from the "downeast" commercials from businesses such as Hammond Lumber. I may never drive to Bangor for a hardware store, but "ham and cheese, ham and eggs, Hammond Lumber" always gets stuck in my head.

John is starting to rub off on me as I am now contemplating a letter to Rogers Cable, asking if it plans on providing me with network programming and thus switching my Boston affiliate to another area, preferably Bangor. Will I actually do this? Probably not, as I don't have a lot of time on my hands, and it is a fruitless effort to try and contact Rogers about anything. But it's an interesting idea and question.

It will be a bad decision if NBC "punishes" WHDH. The station should continue with their news plan, and if viewers want Leno, they'll pummel the station with requests to the point where the station will have to make the change. Or, if Leno's show sucks and NBC pulls it anyway, at least WHDH has come up with a plan and they will be the one station in that area to have news programming during that timeslot.

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