RUSH: ‘NBC officially announced today that its two late-night stars, Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien, will return to the air on Jan. 2 even if the [writers] strike … is not resolved by then. The two hosts would be forced to perform without writers, and might have to face opposition from the Writers Guild, which has thus far urged the late-night hosts to support the strike by staying off the air.’ But they want to get back. Why do they want to come back? I know they love their jobs. They love their jobs. They like the money and so forth. But, you know, I think they’re beginning to realize — and I think this is true of a lot of television — how irrelevant they are. There’s nobody clamoring for these shows to come back. There’s nobody clamoring for a whole lot of prime-time shows to come back. You know, it’s been slow in coming, but it has been coming, and that is the evolutionary change of viewing habits for people who watch prime-time television. The ratings have been not good for a number of programs network-wide. Some programs do well, but network-wide, ratings are off. But the main aspect of this that people I think don’t stop to think about, the average consumer doesn’t, is the advertising vehicle that three hours of prime-time every night on television networks affords advertisers and now it’s gone.
There aren’t as many people watching so the advertisers that spend a lot of money, big budgets on prime-time television, are in the throes of reassessing the allocation of their advertising dollars — which, of course, will only benefit those of us here at the EIB Network, because every single advertiser with us experiences growth that even they are surprised by, even though we tell them it’s going to happen. We don’t go on strike. We don’t have writers, and we’re always here. We are our own producers. We are our own talent. We are all combined into one human being, as pretty decent, all-round, all-encompassing broadcast specialists. So I know Leno and Conan, nobody’s clamoring for their return, nobody seems to be missing them. I mean, not that you hear about. There might be angry letters to the networks, but they have not released them if there are. So I think that’s probably a factor, too, because, you know, out of sight, out of mind — and television is sight, clearly. So they’re going to come back on January 2nd without writers. They’ll probably be stealing more of my stuff, doing their own jokes, which will be interesting to see.