Jay Leno may find himself back on late-night TV following disappointing ratings for his prime-time show.
NBC is considering pulling the comedian’s Jay Leno Show, which has failed to match viewing figures for his 11.35pm Tonight Show since September, when it began airing in the 10pm slot.
And the network is said to be planning to shunt Leno back to the later slot he held for 17 years after complaints from stations behind the newscasts that follow the 10pm show over low ratings leading up to their broadcasts.
The move could come as soon as the beginning of March, after NBC finishes its coverage of the Winter Olympics, according to reports.
NBC denied it was disappointed with Leno’s audience figures – but refused to rule out a move to a later slot.
“As we have said all along, Jay’s show has performed exactly as we anticipated on the network. It has, however, presented some issues for our affiliates. Both Jay and the show are committed to working closely with them to find ways to improve the performance,” a spokesman said.
Leno made light of the situation on Thursday’s show, saying he had heard there was a “rumour floating around that we were cancelled”. He added that, if the rumours are true “it will give us time to do some travelling. I understand that Fox is beautiful this time of year.”
An 11.35pm slot for The Jay Leno Show is thought to mean the Tonight Show – hosted by Conan O’Brian since Leno left – would move back to 12.05am.