‘Leno Effect’ May Linger for Months

By Andrew Gauthier 

The State

After a severance deal with NBC announced Thursday, Conan O’Brien will move on from “The Tonight Show,” and Jay Leno will move back to his comfortable 11:35 p.m. time slot.

But the network ratings meltdown, what station managers refer to as the “Leno effect,” will linger in the local market for months.

“The whole thing has been a grand experiment,” said Donita Todd, vice president and general manager of Columbia’s NBC affiliate WIS-10. “The problem was just not enough people were watching.”

Local news stations count on the networks to deliver programming that will attract–and retain–viewers for the late news. At the 10 p.m. slot, Leno’s prime-time show was a weak lead-in, and that caused local broadcasters around the nation to make noise. More…