Jay Leno Ratings Slam Letterman in Late Night

Viewers certainly tuned in to watch Jay Leno‘s return to late night on Monday, but will it last? The Tonight Show with Jay Leno swamped longtime rival David Letterman in the ratings on Monday, pulling in nearly twice as many viewers as The Late Show.

Jay Leno (Photo: NBC)
Jay Leno (Photo: NBC)

Almost 6 million people watched Jay Leno’s return to The Tonight Show on Monday for the first time since last May. The question remains, however, whether Jay Leno can continue to pull high enough ratings to justify the late night NBC shake-up that resulted in Conan O’Brien ditching The Tonight Show and leaving the network.

Conan O’Brien failed to bring in enough viewers to be consistently competitive against The Late Show with David Letterman on CBS after he took the reins of The Tonight Show. Meanwhile, Jay Leno floundered in his new 10:00 PM slot badly, pulling in disappointing ratings and making NBC sponsors quite unhappy. NBC decided to push Conan O’Brien to a later time and put Jay Leno back in late night, but O’Brien decided he’d rather leave than get the short end of that deal.

NBC has risked a lot on Jay Leno being able to reclaim his late night glory on The Tonight Show. Right now fans are tuning in for the curiosity factor, but if Leno can’t keep them interested, the whole shake-up could backfire on NBC big time.

Personally, we thought Jay Leno’s return to The Tonight Show was rather yawn-worthy. It’s really like he never even left and that’s a bad thing. Leno needs to change things up and take some real chances. The same old, same old isn’t going to give him the ratings he needs to prove he deserved to win the Leno – O’Brien late night war.

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Jay Leno Talks About Show Cancellation Rumors

In his opening monologue Thursday night, Jay Leno addressed rumors about The Jay Leno Show being cancelled by NBC. Leno joked about calling Katie Couric to see how her move from NBC to another network is working out for her.

Jay Leno
Jay Leno

Leno went on to mock his own host network a bit by saying NBC only cancels shows when “they are in first place” and opined that NBC stands for “never believe your contract.”

The rumors of a drastic change for The Jay Leno Show continue to swirl, however. The latest gab roaming the Net is speculation NBC may move Leno back to the old Tonight Show 11:35 p.m. spot – pushing Conan O’Brien to 12:05 and Jimmy Fallon to 1:05.

Check out the Jay Leno Show video below:

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Jay Leno Show Cancelled? Not According to NBC

NBC has no plans to cancel The Jay Leno Show despite failing ratings, according to a statement from the network. NBC issued a response to rumors of a cancellation on Thursday, saying the network is hoping to improve the show to garner more ratings.

The Jay Leno Show
The Jay Leno Show

FTVLive.com cited unidentified sources Thursday morning saying NBC might be closing down The Jay Leno Show shortly after the Winter Olympics because the network considered it a “failure” for its lack of ratings and inability to bring in profits.

Jay Leno is one of the most compelling entertainers in the world today. As we have said all along, Jay’s show has performed exactly as we anticipated on the network,” NBC said in a press statement Thursday. “It has, however, presented some issues for our affiliates. Both Jay and the show are committed to working closely with them to find ways to improve the performance.”

So, basically, NBC is saying that The Jay Leno Show‘s rather pathetic ratings are exactly what they expected from the show? If so, the powers-that-be at NBC really need to raise their expectation levels before they end up putting even worse crap on the air.

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