Fired NBC Jay Leno

US television : Showdown of the show masters

David Letterman was in high spirits when he walked into the studio on his late night talk show Tuesday night. The CBS star had plenty of material for his jokes that evening, and the fact that he got the templates from his toughest competition made things all the more enjoyable for him. "The New York Times reported today that Al Qaeda has taken responsibility for the devastation at NBC," Letterman joked on stage.

The devastation he alluded to is the rubble of an internal war between the talk masters of NBC, which rivals its broadcaster. Letterman emerges from the clinch of the competitors as a laughing third.

NBC's self-dismantling began about seven months ago when Jay Leno, Letterman's decade-long arch-rival, moved up from its traditional slot at 11:35 p.m. to 10 p.m. The meaning of the action: a cost saving in the increasingly harder struggle for survival of the license-free broadcasters against cable television. At ten o'clock, US television usually runs crime or comedy series that cost around three million to produce per episode. The talk format, once invented by Leno's predecessor Johnny Carson in the "Tonight Show" that has been running for 60 years and copied around the world, costs only around $ 400,000.

Meanwhile, Leno's slot before midnight was given to the fresher Conan O'Brien, who was supposed to attract a younger audience. A promising tactic. What NBC didn't expect: at 10 p.m. the audience doesn't want Leno or Late Night at all. Because at this time the viewers are used to an exciting series, it is difficult to change such habits. The result: Leno's quota fell by up to 30 percent and advertising revenue by 22 percent. At the same time, Leno's show was perceived by critics as getting worse and worse: "As a late-night talker, Leno has as much flair as your embarrassing uncle Richard, who performs magic tricks at the Christmas party," wrote the Internet magazine Salon.

Meanwhile, newcomer O’Brien couldn't hold a candle to the established Letterman, despite a decent start. Letterman's laconic New York humor goes down very well with audiences - not even his multi-employee affairs, which he discovered last fall, could not harm his popularity. O’Brien, on the other hand, simply didn't have the time to build his own regular audience.

Last week, NBC pulled the emergency brake and canceled Letterman's decade-long arch-rival Leno. To the amazement of most observers, however, the broadcaster hesitates to fire Leno and flirted with the idea of ​​having him face Letterman again at half past eleven.

Conan O'Brien, who would then slide to after midnight, participated in this charade for exactly three days. On Tuesday he announced that he was leaving NBC. After all, he was able to laugh at himself again on his Tuesday evening show: "As a child, I always saw Johnny Carson and dreamed of hosting his show for seven months."

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