Wait, What if Leno Doesn't Have Enough Fans Left to Retake 11:35?

Dumenco's Trendrr Chart of the Week

By Published on .

Never mind Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi, Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino and Jenni "J-Woww" Farley of MTV's "Jersey Shore." The real action in the reality-TV genre is playing out over at NBC, with Conan "Coco" O'Brien, Jay "The Chin" Leno and Jeff "The Biggest Loser" Zucker supplying us all with endless drama, laughter and tears. (What should we call it? "Network Rehab"? Paging Dr. Drew.)

Which brings me to this week's Trendrr chart—or charts, actually. A few notes and observations:

  • No surprise that the extraordinary "People of Earth" statement that Conan O'Brien issued to the media yesterday caused a massive surge of pro-Conan chatter in the Twittersphere, with 51,843 tweets name-checking him yesterday. Now nice for Coco that we're rallying around him! But, um, not because we particularly like his "Tonight Show" (which has, of course, tanked in the ratings compared to Leno's performance at 11:35) but because he's suddenly become an unlikely (Harvard-educated, multimillionaire) everyman: the freckled face of American job insecurity, a well-meaning hard worker who spent years paying his dues but has now been declared redundant by the halfwit overlords driving his company into the ground.
  • As my old colleague David Carr, media columnist at The New York Times, wrote on Monday, "Not since New Coke has a storied brand been so thoroughly maimed. 'The Tonight Show,' once a gilded entertainment franchise, is now just one more broken toy in the mistake pile." What's extra pathetic is that NBC seems to expect that Jay Leno can go back and fix it (presuming Conan leaves the network and surrenders the show as well as his 11:35 EST time slot) -- even though NBC has turned Leno himself into damaged goods. By awkwardly shoehorning him into prime time, the network not only converted him from late-night ratings champ to broadcast TV's most conspicuous failure, but put a glaring spotlight on just how unfunny he really is. At 11:35 all those years, it turns out, his show was more of a default than a destination. Our TVs were already set to NBC (back when it was must-see), and Leno was, at best, an inoffensive, mild beddy-bye sedative. Now that we all realize that, are we supposed to abruptly abandon the new viewing habits we've established at 11:35 and welcome him back with arms open wide?
  • Just how many loyal fans does Jay Leno have left, anyway? Beyond the suits at NBC, he's Twitter's leading punching bag of the moment. People seem to be blaming him for the fiasco and for Conan's humiliation (possibly because, well, he's at fault). Let's go to the tape: Last fall, Trendrr introduced something called Twitter sentiment analysis. The idea is that, by mapping certain words against the feelings they're typically meant to convey, you can get a sense of not only how many people are tweeting about a certain subject, but how they generally feel about it. It's an inexact science (the nuances of language are notoriously hard for machines to "read"), but any way you look at Leno's numbers right now, they're not pretty. Last Friday, for instance, an estimated 46% of tweets name-checking "Leno" skewed negative. (The next day 43% of tweets mentioning "NBC" skewed negative as well.) Hand me the remote, will ya?
P.S. Looking for the latest Media Guy column? It's right here.)

~ ~ ~

Dumenco's Trendrr Chart of the Week is produced in collaboration with Wiredset, the New York digital agency behind Trendrr, a social- and digital-media tracking service. More background here. A basic Trendrr account is free; Trendrr Pro, which offers more robust tracking and reporting tools, comes in various paid flavors (get the details