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Bob Moon: If you just can’t miss the Olympics, you probably also haven’t been able to miss NBC’s big promo push for Jay Leno’s return to late night. The network is busy trying to unscramble the eggs and reclaim the ratings lead it held before Conan O’Brien took over “The Tonight Show.”
Marketplace’s Jeremy Hobson has an update.
JEREMY HOBSON: If you’ve been watching the Olympics, you’ve probably seen this ad: Jay Leno cruising unapologetically down the freeway, driving back into his old spot at 11:30 p.m.
AD MUSIC: Get back to where you once belonged…
Whether his old viewers will get back with him is another question.
Bill Carroll at the Katz Television Group says the good news for Jay Leno is he’s still got a sizable core audience.
BILL CARROLL: If he’s back in place, they’ll at least go back and sample. Now whether they stay with him, or not, they’ve sampled Kimmel or Jon Stewart or whoever, that’s tougher to get a handle on.
And remember, NBC’s got Leno’s old 10:00 hole to fill.
Variety TV Critic Brian Lowry says that presents a big challenge for the network.
BRIAN LOWRY: They’re going to have to start over relaunching the 10:00 hour. They’ve got “Law and Order” there on one night. They’ve got a new drama “Parenthood” on another. They’ve got a reality show with Jerry Seinfeld on Thursday. That’s a lot of change to sell.
And a bomb at 10:00 would hurt viewership of the 11:00 news, which in turn would hurt Leno. Though Lowry says…
LOWRY: Terrible lead-ins are a problem, but Leno didn’t have terrific lead-ins before, and he was still winning.
There is one more factor, not far from where I sit here in mid-town Manhattan. “The Tonight Show’s” chief competition — David Letterman’s “Late Show” on CBS — is now number one. In early February, the “Late Show” attracted more than 4.5 million sets of eyeballs — its highest numbers of the season.
In New York, I’m Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.
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