Leno's Lambert Interview a Month Too Late

Rash Report: Meanwhile, CBS Repeats Beat Rivals

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MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- Did you see the big interview with Adam Lambert on NBC's "Jay Leno Show"? He alternately defended himself and ABC, the network that backed away from his provocative performance at the AMA Awards, as Jay's couch was just as it was supposed to be -- the place where the top pop culture newsmakers are alternately confessional and confrontational. Except the AMA's were a month ago. And America's short attention span has already moved on, to Tiger and, tragically, Brittany Murphy.

Adam Lambert on 'The Jay Leno Show'
Adam Lambert on 'The Jay Leno Show' Credit: NBC
For "Leno" to ever realize its prime-time potential, the former late night host's show needed to become the place where those who have something to say need to be, either the same day or the next night. Just as it was with Kanye West, who appeared on the "Leno" program premiere right after his provocative presentation on MTV's VMA Award Show.

But of course, Jay's Kanye media moment was a result of scheduling serendipity, not aggressive last-minute booking. It's this lack of alacrity that not only has several NBC affiliates openly wondering about the show's future, but that resulted in it delivering a 1.6/4 rating and share in the ad-centric adult 18-49 demographic, which despite being a 10-week Monday high, still lost to a rerun of CBS's "CSI: Miami" (2.4/7), although it beat a repeat of ABC's "Castle" (1.0/3). This result -- reflective of multiple times when an original "Leno" lost to rivals' repeats -- belies the "Plan B" strategy of "Leno's" ratings rising against repeats.

And it's not that "Leno" had a lower lead-in: A two-hour finale of "The Sing-Off" (2.3/6) matched its program premiere of last Monday, winning prime's first hour over ABC's "I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown" (1.8/5), Fox's "House" repeat (1.6/5) and back-to-back reruns on CBS ("How I Met Your Mother," and "Accidentally on Purpose," both 1.7/5) as well as a second showing of the CW's "One Tree Hill" (.3/1).

And "The Sing-Off" was second in the 9 p.m. hour, beaten only by reruns of CBS's "Two and a Half Men" (3.2/9) and "Big Bang Theory" (3.4.9), but ahead of repeats of ABC's "Find My Family" (1.2/3) and repeats of Fox's "Lie to Me" (1.3/3) and the CW's "Gossip Girl" (.3.1).

But due partly to the lackluster "Leno" showing, NBC finished second with a 2.1/6, behind first place CBS (2.4/7) but ahead of Fox (1.4/4), ABC (1.3/4) and the CW (.3/1).

Rash gridsEnlarge
See how all the shows did in the ratings.

As is the case on most Mondays during the third and fourth quarter, all of broadcast was lower rated than ESPN, as "Monday Night Football" scored a 4.2/12 for the New York Giants' victory over the Washington Redskins.

The Redskins latest loss came just a week after the team named a new general manager and appears in the midst of interviewing for a new head coach. No such drastic action yet at NBC, but as the 2010 development season begins to unfold, expect some to call for NBC to bench its most prominent player.

WHAT TO WATCH:
Tuesday: A bit edgier holiday animation than Frosty and Rudolph can be seen on the Disney Channel, which runs Tim Burton's "The Nightmare Before Christmas."
Wednesday: OK, back to the cute, classic stuff: It's the last chance to watch "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (at least on ABC) this season.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
The Rash Report's return on Monday, Jan. 4, 2010. Happy Holidays!

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NOTE: All ratings based on adults 18-49. A share is a percentage of adults 18-49 who have their TV sets on at a given time. A rating is a percentage of all adults 18-49, whether or not their sets are turned on. For example, a 1.0 rating is 1% of the total U.S. adults 18-49 population with TVs. Ratings quoted in this column are based on live-plus-same-day unless otherwise noted. (Many ad deals have been negotiated on the basis of commercial-minute, live-plus-three-days viewing.)

John Rash is senior VP-director of media analysis for Campbell Mithun, Minneapolis. For more, see rashreport.com.

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