Note this is only a rumour but an uber-intriguing one at that. As reported by TV writer Tom Jicha:
A friend with inside ties to the TV business called with a rumour he heard. An idea Comcast is supposedly considering if the deal to buy NBC goes through is to give the 10 p.m. hour back to the local affiliates, move Jay Leno to 11 p.m. and have Conan O’Brien’s Tonight Show follow at midnight.
The reason it’s worth throwing out there is it makes a lot of sense. The affiliates are justifiably upset that Leno’s low-rated 10 p.m. show is hurting their late newscasts. Giving them a 10 p.m. news window in front of Leno alleviates that and gives local stations an hour with a substantially larger available audience.
He’s right, no? Jicha notes that Leno can’t compete with scripted dramas and a later time slot would allow him to put popular features like “Jaywalking” back at the top of the show rather than at the end as bait to keep viewers from switching channels (if they were watching in the first place).
If Comcast winds up shaking hands with NBC Universal — and the Wall Street Journal gives the much-hyped merger “50/50 odds” of becoming a done deal — then Conan O’Brien will continue to be the redheaded stepchild in NBC’s late-night lineup. He’s the host of “The Tonight Show” and still he must follow predecessor Leno, who’d probably relish the opportunity to return to his old format/time slot.
Then again, Conan — who’s trailing CBS’s Letterman in the ratings — thrives at the midnight hour, where he can take more creative risks without alienating a mainstream audience. This domino effect would also push back Jimmy Fallon’s talk show, thereby attracting more stoners to his goofy schtick.
Then again, this is all just rumour.
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