Late-Night Lineup Debacle Could Get Expensive

This Jeff Zucker created snafu is going to cost NBC a lot of money according to

Fixing NBC’s prime-time schedule will cost at least $200 million, David Bank, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets in New York, estimated yesterday in an e-mail. New York-based NBC needs to add five nights of programming at 10 p.m. to fill the gap left by Leno, he said.

And according to Nikki Finke’s DH:

To NBC’s way of thinking, this way the network can kill two birds with one stone: it won’t have to pay Jay that hefty $80 million penalty for taking The Jay Leno Show off the air because the program has “merely” moved timeslots. And it won’t have to pay Conan that fat $60 million penalty for removing him from The Tonight Show because O’Brien is still the host only at a later starting time.

This snowball is moving fast. Finke is also reporting that Zucker wants to “ice” Conan. Finke writes:

To counter O’Brien’s principled public statement which the late night host issued this week, Zucker “is threatening to ice Conan”, according to his reps. “Zucker said, ‘I’ll keep you off the air for 3 1/2 years.’

Remember this all started with an “experiment” which was super, super cheap primetime programming five days a week. That gamble is going bust. Much more fun to watch than any of the shows.

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