Leno leaves gaping hole at Citytv

The Leno show may have met viewership expectations on Citytv, but it wasn't cutting it for NBC. The network has asked Leno to move back to 11:35 p.m., leaving a gaping hole in the prime 10 p.m. slot.

Networks on this side of the border remain tight-lipped on how they will deal with the changes to their late-night schedules, following word from NBC that it has yanked The Jay Leno Show from primetime, asking the former Tonight Show host to go back to 11:35 p.m.

Citytv had been simulcasting the Leno show weeknights at 10 p.m. ET since its premiere in September, taking a gamble, as did the Peacock network, that transplanting late-night talk into primetime would work as well as scripted shows. The experiment fizzled – leading NBC to cave to pressure from its affiliates, who for months have complained that the ‘Leno effect’ was dragging down the ratings of their local 11 p.m. newscasts.

The schedule change sends The Tonight Show, now hosted by Conan O’Brien, and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon each back a half hour, to 12:05 a.m. and 1:05 a.m. respectively. In Canada, O’Brien and Fallon air on CTV’s A channel.

Citytv on Monday said it was ‘disappointed’ with the decision to cancel the show, which ends Feb. 12 as the Winter Olympics get underway. EVP of programming Malcolm Dunlop says Leno met expectations on the Rogers-owned network.

‘Our audience numbers were meeting our projections and Jay Leno at 10 p.m. fit well into Citytv’s desire to be innovative, and proved our willingness to take some risks,’ he said, adding he plans to announce Citytv’s revised schedule ‘very shortly.’

The gaping hole at 10 p.m. will be difficult to fill for both networks, and the Leno shuffle stands to displace CityNews International, which currently follows the local newscasts. The remainder of City’s late-night schedule is made up of lower-profile reality shows. The network used to carry but has since dropped ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Show.

Neither Dunlop nor any other Citytv representatives were available for further comment.

The A channels are also withholding comment.

Prior to the Leno debacle, the week was off to a good start for City, which saw 2.7 million viewers tune in for the two-hour season premiere of The Bachelor: On the Wings of Love on Monday, Jan. 4 at 8 p.m. It marks a notable 91% increase over last year’s winter launch of The Bachelor, though that was before the Personal People Meters were in use. (All numbers 2+).

The Biggest Loser: Couples followed with 2.3 million viewers on Tuesday at 8 p.m., despite airing opposite the mega final of the World Juniors, which clocked in at five million viewers on TSN. Citytv acquired Biggest Loser from Canwest last year following the sale of the E! stations.

From Playback Daily