No one expects the Jay Leno Show to maintain the pumped-up ratings it got this week—not even NBC. But the low-key talk show might represent the future of network TV anyway, simply because it’s so darn cheap, writes Brian Steinberg of Advertising Age. With viewers breaking from broad network offerings in favor of niche ones on cable and online, live shows could replace pricey dramas and sitcoms.
Last week’s debut drew 18 million viewers, but that number swiftly fell to 8 million by Thursday, and should fall more once rivals debut their new seasons. Ad buyers ultimately expect it to pull a 1.5 or 2.0 share among 18- to 49-year-olds—less even than repeats on other networks. “You’re approaching high-rated CW territory,” said one analyst. But NBC has many advertisers lined up, and if it’s a financial success, copycats could follow.