This week’s Broadcast and Cable magazine had an article on The Jay Leno Show. B & C reports that some affiliates are disatisfied with the ratings. The Jay Leno show is running approximately half of the ratings of the previous shows. This is a major problem because the Jay Leno Show airs five nights a week. It is not the same as a primetime show failing, this means a good portion of all of primetime is failing. Networks usually make most of their money from primetime programs. More importantly for the distribution realpolitik though is the satisfaction (or lack thereof) of the affiliates who count on primetime programs to provide good lead-in ratings to their newscasts.
Does a network need affiliates? Many would argue that in today’s world of technology, networks could do without affiliates. On the other hand, affiliates still deliver virtually all of the networks’ viewers. so the balance is delicate. The network is arguing that Jay Leno is a 52-week strategy, where Jay Leno will outperform the other networks once those shows go into reruns and Jay Leno still has original and fresh programs. Which side will win?