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March 19, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Reinstalling Jay Leno as host of The Tonight Show may turn out to be NBC’s equivalent of former President Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” moment following the invasion of Iraq — as unanticipated fallout continues to roil the network’s late-night schedule. The Hollywood Reporter observed today (Friday) that Leno’s ratings are down 13 percent among younger viewers and down 3 percent among total viewers from what they were before he left the show. Commenting on the latest ratings figures, the trade paper commented, “For the industry to perceive that NBC made the correct choice in keeping Leno, another key hurdle is that the Tonight host stay above the ratings O’Brien scored during his tenure as Tonight host. But for the past couple weeks, Leno has barely topped O’Brien’s average — 1.2 to O’Brien’s 1.1 — even though O’Brien endured inferior lead-in ratings from the 10 p.m. hour (Leno’s short-lived primetime effort).” Media Life observed today that Leno is not gaining viewers and that his ratings for his second week were down dramatically from his first week. Nevertheless, the publication concluded, “Mostly what the second week suggests is that, after all the hoopla over the NBC late-night fiasco died down, Leno is not benefiting or hurting from the entire affair. Though his numbers may be down from his last go-round in late night, he’s still doing better than Conan O’Brien.”