How is Jay Leno Doing In His New Time Slot?

Jay Leno's move to prime time is the most radical change to the fall TV season. By putting his comedy talk show on at 10 p.m. five nights a week, NBC has shaken up the way networks program their schedules. Conventional wisdom says dramas are the most popular in that timeslot.

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TV: 00 p.m. five nights a week, NBC took a huge gamble. Conventional wisdom says dramas are the most popular shows in that timeslot.

Two weeks in, NPR's Elizabeth Blair checks in on Leno.

ELIZABETH BLAIR: It's pretty much late night Jay Leno, only earlier and without the desk.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE JAY LENO SHOW")

JAY LENO: And Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi Duck, this moron was at the U.N. today...

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

LENO: ...he talked for every talk time that Israel and the swine flu and the JFK assassinations. Where was Kanye West to grab the microphone away?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

BLAIR: The new "Jay Leno Show" has not been a ratings bonanza. It started off with a bang, reaching more than 18 million viewers that first night. But one week later, that number plummeted, putting NBC in third place in the 10:00 p.m. time slot. Since Jay Leno is relatively cheap to produce, NBC will still make money.

KEN TUCKER: They set the bar low to begin with and it's about to go lower, I think.

BLAIR: Ken Tucker is editor of Entertainment Weekly. He says Leno really has his eye on the 18 to 49-year-old set.

TUCKER: If he can't keep up a certain age group, advertisers are going to flee from that.

BLAIR: Once upon a time, when Jay Leno was in a fierce ratings battle with David Letterman, he stepped up his game, made changes, and eventually won. NBC executives say they'll judge "The Jay Leno Show" after it's been on for 52 weeks.

Elizabeth Blair, NPR News.

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