Hollywood wants Jay Leno to fail. It’s true, and it’s not surprising. With his new show set to debut at 10pm on September 14, 2009 on NBC, Hollywood is rooting against him, according to an interesting article by Variety, published today. Why? A week’s worth of Leno will cost the same amount as one, one-hour long drama, and if successful, other studios could replicate the model. So what? If they do, that means that an hour of prime time is lost, eliminating lots of jobs in the process.
There’s no need to rehash the article – read it for yourself.
Personally, in the long run, I don’t think the establishment has to worry – about this, anyway. Even if the Jay Leno show is successful at this hour, it will be hard to replicate without a proven name jumping into the time slot on another channel (though think if they moved Letterman to 10pm as well?). Furthermore, what’s considered a success for Leno may not be considered a success in general; the audiences that a variety show attract, though consistent day-to-day, won’t match what E.R. was pulling in, even in its fading years. If networks want big audiences, daily, unscripted programming is not the way to go.
What the networks, and the people that are employed by the shows distributed on the networks, need to be more concerned about is how they can compete in the coming years with cable shows. First it was HBO, then it was Showtime, and now it’s channels like FX, TNT and AMC – channels that don’t require anything more than a typical cable package – that are producing star-studded, well-written and engaging shows. Networks are losing subscribers every year because they aren’t keeping up.
In a few years, if the networks continue to find a couple key unscripted shows every couple of years (Dancing with the Stars, Survivor, American Idol, Amazing Race and several others come to mind as “survivors” of the reality game and ones that are, essentially, cash cows for the foreseeable future) and more of primetime is eliminated by other cost-cutting shows, they may not exist as we know them today. We’ll go to cable for our quality programming and the networks will provide us with the bare essentials – news, reality shows, sports and daytime soaps. Oh, and “Judge Judy.”
It sounds scary, but is it really?