‘Leno’ Experiment Penny-Wise, Pound-Foolish

By Andrew Gauthier 

The Lost Remote newsletter brings you the the best in streaming news, from staffing changes to premiere dates to trailers—to the latest platform moves. Sign up today.


NBC touted its decision to shift late-night comic Jay Leno into a five-days-a-week prime-time program as a maneuver made with the future in mind. Too bad the present got in the way.

With audiences scooting to Twitter, Hulu, DVDs, programs on demand, and a library of shows recorded on DVRs — to name just a few of the dozens of emerging video options out there — it just made plain good sense, or so NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker theorized in various investor presentations, to cut back investment in flashy scripted dramas in favor of a program that cost less to make even if it drew fewer eyeballs. Broadcast TV (and NBC in particular) has been losing audience for years, so why not cook up a new economic model for a new reality?

“The only sure way to declare defeat is to say, ‘I’m going to keep doing it the same old way,'” Mr. Zucker said in March of last year. More…