Stupid Question

Cohasset / Hippisley
Sun Jan 10 21:09:49 EST 2010

On Jan 10, 2010, at 4:09 PM, Bob DeMattia wrote:

> What?  Move the affiiate news up an hour, then program Leno at 10:30 instead
> of 11?

As someone who used to enjoy the first part of the Leno show at 11:35 p.m., after the late night news, I've spent some time analyzing my own (lack of) response to his 10:00 p.m. show.  I suspect many people who enjoy Leno at 11:35 p.m. and later are in the same boat as my wife and I:

1.  We're not ready by 10:00 p.m. to commit to sitting in front of the TV set on a nightly basis.  Once in a while my wife will note that some music awards, drama, or 'tear-jerker' special is going to be on from 10-11 or 9-11, and she'll clear the decks to make sure she sees it -- such as by arranging to do some ironing or laundry folding at that time.  But except for that, we're almost always still 'on the go' -- in and out of the house -- until sometime in the middle of the 11 o'clock news -- and sometimes later.  It's easy to get us to tune in four or five nights a week at 11:35; not so easy to get us to tune in even once a week at 10.

2.  I think it's one thing to 'clear the decks' for a 1-hour or 2-hour drama, weekly series, or special, where you "know" what the content is going to be like for the full time slot, but it's another thing to make a 1-hour commitment five nights a week to a show where you don't really know what's going to come after the monolog.  For instance, my wife and I enjoy Jay's monolog, we enjoy "Jay Walking", we enjoy the funny sign boards with the typos (whatever that segment is called), but we can do without the interviews with the self-absorbed Hollywood stars and most of the musical groups that appear.    

3.  The nice thing about having the Jay Leno Show begin at 11:35 p.m. is that each show is a hodge-podge of individual segments, and you don't feel badly about falling asleep at any point in the show.  At 10:00, however, there's a sense of "I need to stay with this to catch the news".  In other words, for many of Jay's viewers (my wife and I included), it's important that the Jay Leno Show be the *last* thing on their TV schedule, with a user-defined, highly variable, 'ending' time.   

One factor I haven't seen mentioned here is the issue of relative audience sizes for 10 p.m. and 11:35 p.m.  'Prime Time' is called that for a reason.  Having the top-rated late night show doesn't mean it's going to be competitive in Prime Time, even if it holds or expands its 11:35 p.m. audience size.  It's been many years since I dealt in audience sizes and market shares, but when I was paying attention to that stuff, the best of late night audiences was far below the average prime time audience.  So I felt from the beginning that a 10:00 p.m. Leno show would have an uphill battle.  

Finally, and as an aside, I think 10:00 p.m. news works best for highly agrarian communities where a major part of the population has to rise before the sun comes up -- and perhaps also where a large percentage of the population works a 1st shift with a very early start time.  But that describes a very small part of the eastern time zone of the USA -- especially with the loss of so much manufacturing in recent decades.   Here in the Syracuse metro area we have at least one station that does a 10:00 p.m. newscast; once in a while I find that useful (because I'm crashing early because I have to be up early to catch an early train, etc.).  So I'm all in favor of the "11 o'clock" news appearing at different times on different stations.  Of course, these days I've noticed the same anchors, reporters, and weatherpersons are appearing on all those different stations....:-)

Bud Hippisley

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