It's Official, NBC's Problems Run Day and Night

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NBC has a funny way of making stories television ratings, talk show hosts and television rivalries sort of sexy. There's turmoil on the Tonight show, and yes, there's a Today Show joke in here somewhere.  "And today? Tonight is in trouble," opens the Los Angeles Times's Scott Collins story in an analysis of just how bad things are for Jay Leno and NBC, and (bad joke aside) he does bring up the all the interesting reasons why Leno and Co. are facing bad times, including Jimmy Kimmel's popularity, The Daily Show's reinvention of the genre, and we (and Collins) can't help but recall another saga involving an NBC's ratings monster, a host kerfluffle, and a rival catching up--yes that one. And this is the consequence of having an ailing Tonight show:

This month, the show saw wide layoffs for only the second time in its 58-year history, with about 20 people losing their jobs and host Jay Leno taking a pay cut that lopped off more than 10% from his estimated $26-million annual salary.

Leno even offered to work for free to save more jobs, according to people familiar with the matter, who said the offer was rejected because executives believed it would set a bad precedent. These people said "Tonight" was now barely breaking even.

Scary. Well, relatively scary (there are of course things like Ebola and civil war going on), we mean. What's scarier (relatively), as Collins hints upon, is that solutions aren't exactly easy. You could say replace Leno--but we know how that turned out the first time and all the negative publicity that wrought, and NBC is still receiving some fall out over its dismissal of Ann Curry. Or you could maybe take a page from The Daily Show, but that wouldn't exactly solve the generational shift/growing pains the show is experiencing or win over Stewart's viewers. "What is certain is that NBC will have to stay up late figuring out the best way to stay competitive in a time period it virtually invented with Tonight," writes Collins. Honey Boo Boo Child, is an option, right?

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.