Jimmy Kimmel may rule the ratings among the coveted 18-49 demo on his late night ABC talk show, but Jay Leno still garners the best ratings of all of the late night shows and that's what matters, doesn't it?
Not according to NBC.
In the latest installment of the late night TV wars, the peacock network is reportedly trying to oust reigning ratings king Leno in favor of the younger, hipper, Jimmy Fallon, whose show currently comes on after Leno's.
The two NBC late night hosts have even been addressing a possible shake up at the network on their respective shows this week.
While Fallon joked, "The rumors are true. NBC is turning the 'Tonight Show' into a diving competition," Leno's barbs at NBC have cut a bit deeper, calling the network "snakes" and "extinct."
But Leno is rightfully upset. The 62-year-old comedian is still beating h is longtime competition, David Letterman, as well as younger late night hosts Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel, in the ratings.
"Leno has averaged 3.53 million total viewers, compared to 3.1 million for Letterman, and and 2.64 million for Kimmel," reports The Wrap . " In the younger demo, Kimmel closes the gap — but is still behind Leno. Leno has 1.02 million viewers 19-49, compared to 936,000 for Kimmel and 873,000 for Letterman."
"NBC isn't reacting to Kimmel beating Leno in younger viewers," adds The Wrap. "It's reacting to the possibility that Kimmel might start beating Leno soon."
Remember what happened last time NBC tried to replace Leno with the younger Conan O'Brien in 2010? It was bad.
The brass at NBC moved Leno to a primetime spot, giving his late night spot to O'Brien, whose show aired after Leno's. The scheduling change was attributed to poor ratings for both shows.
Though not technically a breach of either host's contract, the change resulted in public demonstrations in support of O'Brien and embarrassment for the network .
"Shortly after NBC made the schedule change proposal, O'Brien indicated that he would quit his show and leave the network if NBC were to implement it, citing the 'destruction' of the venerable franchise which had aired at or around 11:30 pm for over 60 years," according to a Wikipedia page devoted to the controversy.
Eventually, after nearly two weeks of negotiations, O'Brien walked and he, along with his staff, received a total of $45 million to peacefully exit the network.
"The odds are we will both leave this Earth without speaking to each other, which is fine," O'Brien told The Hollywood Reporter after the 2010 controversy with Leno . "There's really nothing to say. We both know the deal. He knows; I know. I'd rather just forget ... It helps that almost everybody involved in the craziness has been relieved of their jobs. "
At the rate NBC is going, they're headed directly for another "2010 Tonight Show Conflict," as the incident is now known.
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