The news at NBC, which in a moment of sheer genius the GE company unloaded earlier, is that the network’s ratings suck. NBC is in fifth place, behind Univision, a network that broadcasts in Spanish. This has been fodder for late night comedian Jay Leno.
Specifically, on the night of Feb. 28, Mr. Leno referenced the news about NBC’s falling into fifth place by telling a series of jokes:
“For the first time in history NBC is going to finish fifth in the ratings period,” Mr. Leno said. “We are behind the Spanish-language network Univision — or as we call it here in
Cinco de Ratings.” He added a series of rapid-fire jokes about how bad off NBC
is including: “It’s so bad, ‘The Biggest Loser’ isn’t just a TV show anymore;
it’s our new motto.” And: “It’s so bad, NBC called Manti Te’o and asked him to
bring in some imaginary viewers.” Los Angeles
Robert Greenblatt, a man in charge of prime time programming at NBC, and the one person who might be the most responsible for the network’s performance was not amused.
Mr. Greenblatt, who has the main responsibility for the network’s prime-time ratings, fired off an e-mail to Mr. Leno, according to those who were aware of the events, and complained. The executives who know about the conflict all asked not to be identified because of their ongoing dealings with NBC.
After the first e-mail from Mr. Greenblatt, two of the executives who know what transpired reported,there was an exchange of pointed e-mails between Mr. Leno and Mr. Greenblatt.
But gosh Mr. Greenblatt, there is a simple solution here. Do your job. Put on programs that people want to watch. Isn’t that what is in your job description. So the bottom line is this, if you don’t like Jay Leno making fun of your ratings, get your ratings up. And in the meantime, get a sense of humor, and humility.
Oh, and in case you didn’t know, Mr. Leno is doing his part.
So far, Mr. Leno has continued to win consistently in almost every rating category, including among viewers between the ages of 18 and 49, the chief target for late-night advertisers. Mr. Kimmel won his first week against Mr. Leno in that category, but Mr. Leno has won every week since.
So yes Mr. Greenblatt, we are laughing at you not with you, but mostly we are not watching you.