Friday, January 15, 2010

Dick Ebersol is aptly named


Nobody can accuse NBC executive Dick Ebersol of not being a company man. If you've been living under a rock, NBC has decided to kill Jay Leno's 10 p.m. weeknight talk show and wants to put Leno back at 11:35, thus pushing back Conan O'Brien’s "Tonight Show." O’Brien, as one might expect, is balking about the move and has been very public in bashing the network's plan. And now Ebersol is trying to shift the blame for the whole mess to O’Brien, calling him an "astounding failure." Ebersol also ripped O’Brien and fellow late-night host David Letterman for their pointed jokes about the situation, saying, "It’s chicken-hearted and gutless to blame a guy (Leno) you couldn’t beat in the ratings. They're just striking out at Jay.” Chicken-hearted? It's not as if O'Brien and Letterman are leaking statements to the National Enquirer. They're making them on national TV in front of millions of viewers. And let's remember that it was NBC who pushed Leno out of the "Tonight Show" seat and replaced him with O'Brien. As for that "astounding failure" remark, I think O'Brien, whose previous show needed time to build an audience, deserves more than seven months to succeed with the "Tonight Show." Ebersol also is taking O'Brien to task for blaming his own so-so ratings on the weak lead-in provided by Leno. Let's face facts, Dick. Leno's ratings at 10 p.m. stink. That's the reason you're killing his show. And O'Brien isn't the only one pointing to the sorry lead-in provided by Leno. NBC affiliates are reportedly hacked, and losing money, because Leno is providing such a weak lead-in to their 11 p.m. news programs. Leno promised something new and different when he moved from 11:35 to 10 p.m., but instead he rolled out the same old, tired gags from his old show. Viewers stayed away in droves. Leno is the real underachiever here. It's really easy to settle this whole mess. If Ebersol is so convinced that O'Brien is an "astounding failure," he and NBC should have no problem releasing O'Brien from his NBC deal and allowing him to immediately take his talk show to another network, where he could compete directly with Leno. Yeah, right.

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12 Comments:

Blogger Amanda Blu said...

Amen, Brant!

January 15, 2010 at 2:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I prefer O'Brien over Leno, but there is no way he beats Leno 'head to head' if Conan leaves for another network.

I don't understand why you would bash Leno, can you honestly think of anyone that could be successful in that 10 pm format? Monday through Friday?

Will

January 15, 2010 at 7:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope Conan goes to Fox and slaughters Leno in the ratings.

January 15, 2010 at 10:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the past, Leno beat Letterman in the 11:30 time slot because he's better than Letterman and he's better than Conan. Don't blame him for someone else's mistakes. And what about Conan reportedly getting a $30 mil buyout but doing nothing to help his staff of 200 who will be left high and dry. How much of that $30 mil will he give to them as appreciation for their being with him for years as he struggled to make it to the top? Many of whom moved from NY to California with Conan. Personally, I find him entertaining at first but he wears on me as Steve Colbert does. I'm tired of them.

January 16, 2010 at 11:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The demographic that Conan appeals to won't be watching at 11pm.

They will be watching reruns of The Daily Show, or Jersey Shore, or other cable stuff.

Besides, Fox has their local news at 10pm, not 11, which would make it even more troublesome.

January 16, 2010 at 11:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In today's market, almost every TV station has some kind of 10 p.m. news, so it doesn't follow that FOX's 10 p.m. news wouldn't lead to Conan viewership. And I'm not buying the idea that you keep your TV tuned to the station that has the local news you watch because you're too lazy to use the remote. I hate WPXI news, but I watched Conan. I didn't watch Leno. I like Letterman, but I don't watch KDKA news. I watch WTAE news sometimes, but I don't watch what follows it. So I don't agree with Conan's assertion that lousy NBC programming gave him a bad leadin.

As for Conan's buyout, it hasn't been confirmed. And who know how he will help his staffers? Quite often, that kind of things gets no publicity.

January 16, 2010 at 1:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know if Jeff Immelt has a say in this, but everything he touches turns to crap. I read somewhere NBC has already lost 200 million in the broadcast of the Olympics, and they haven't even started yet!

AS a CEO with that type of lost you must not really care about about the investors money. Unless you give the President a soapbox for say... billions in green tech windmill contracts?

Looks like tha turned into crap also. Hey E how is that green tech stock doing after climategate?

January 17, 2010 at 12:21 PM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

Hola! Re: Anonymous and the fallacy of the lead-in

The phenomenon that broadcast stations rely on for carryover viewership is not based in lethargy or laziness or unwillingness to change the channel. The idea is that you have your local affiliate news audience at 11pm and during the commercial breaks, those viewers are being exposed to promotional advertisements for the program that is following the news. You are watching the WPXI news and you are seeing spots for O'Brien's super fantastic unbeatably funny show of amazingness with guests that you want to see and oh my jeez it's going to be awesome. Given a big enough audience, the numbers are in your favor that you are going to retain a portion of your viewership from one program to the next. And the research bears this out. If we just pick two relatively familiar markets- pittsburgh and philadelphia, for example.

If we set people who watch the local news on ABC, CBS, and NBC as a "target" and then cross-tab that with the viewership of Leno, Letterman, or Nightline (research gathered in March 09)--- you see that there is stickiness from program to program. If you set your data format to "index" you see how much influence prior-program viewership has. On the index, 100 is the propensity of the "average" viewer to watch the following program. Any variation from 100 indicates the degree to which someone with certain traits (news viewership) is more or less likely to watch the show in question.

Pittsburgh
Leno
Wtae index 148
Kdka index 138
Wpxi index 208

You read this as such: "People who watch WPXI 11pm news are 2.08 times as likely to watch leno than the average viewer. The NBC programming has the highest index.

Nightline

Wtae index 311
Kdka index 170
Wpxi index 180

That one is a profound trend... wtae news viewers are 3 times as likely to watch nightline than the average 18+ adult.

Letterman

Wtae index 169
Kdka index 217
Wpxi index 140

Again, the expected results.
---------------------
Philly-

Letterman
CBS index 216
NBC index 182
ABC index 168

Leno
CBS index 180
NBC index 238
ABC index 164

Nightline
CBS index 206
NBC index 187
ABC index 234

These statistics are probably about 90% consistent across all media markets. The 10% variability comes in markets that are, for whatever reason, have an external predisposition for one program over another.

Interesting note, though... is that people are generally NOT willing to admit that their viewership choices are influenced by marketing or subconscious influences. In Sioux Falls, for example, when asked which station you watch most often for news and then are asked "Why do you watch that station most often?"

2% acknowledge that they watch a particular news program because they watch the program that is on before the news, while the #1 answer (21%) is that they have "just always watched that news."

In many cases, the audience is yours to lose.

January 17, 2010 at 12:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You lost me at 'fallacy'.

January 17, 2010 at 1:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your figures explain many things, young Ellipses! I guess I'm not typical. Seems to me, though, that if you are a Conan fan, you'll watch whether he has anyone "good" on or not. But then again, I hate reality shows, hate the afternoon talk slop, hate soap operas and all the "star" shows. Hate most TV, in fact. I like The Simpsons and PSB. And Mythbusters. If local & cable TV died tonight, though, I wouldn't miss it.

January 17, 2010 at 2:14 PM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

"Hey E how is that green tech stock doing after climategate?"

First Solar is up 300% since '07...

Canadian Solar is up about 1000% (yes, one thousand percent) since March of this year...

"Green Tech" is primarily about economics... the fact that it is a cleaner form of electrical generation is just a bonus.

January 17, 2010 at 10:57 PM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

"I guess I'm not typical."

Everyone believes that they are a unique individual... but if you get a large enough number of people, you can find trends and exploit them. You and I probably have very similar media habits... that makes us a market for someone to try to access and exploit :-) It's a vicious circle.

January 20, 2010 at 12:46 PM  

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