NBC’s “The Jay Leno Show” will likely have some of the smallest ratings on broadcast TV’s primetime this season. And yet it’s probably the most important show of the year.
Mr. Leno symbolizes the new and heartbreaking reality of broadcast-network TV: Large numbers of viewers are moving from big, broad media venues to those that are more personalized, and often found online. That means NBC and its rivals may no longer be able to garner the audiences the allowed them to create hours and hours of dramas that cost tens of millions of dollars to produce each week.
Mr. Leno’s program may not be a huge hit on the order of “The Cosby Show,” but it will cost NBC significantly less than it would to mount five new dramas whose success is far from guaranteed (even TV executives will tell you that 75% to 80% of new shows fail). More…