Seinfeld on Jay-Conan Debacle: ‘I Can’t Blame NBC’

Comic says it was the “right idea at the wrong time” and suggests viewers just weren’t that into Conan

Jerry Seinfeld is happy Jay Leno is moving back to 11:35 p.m. and doesn’t blame NBC for trying.

Seinfeld, who’s close friends with both Leno and is also friendly with NBC U CEO Jeff Zucker, called the Peacock’s 10 p.m. Leno experiment "the right idea at the wrong time" during a session Sunday for his new NBC show "The Marriage Ref."

The comic compared NBC’s move to the AOL-Time Warner merger — not for their disastrous outcomes but for their bad timing. "Do that deal today and put Google in for AOL," and the deal would’ve been a success, Seinfeld said.

He also took issue with the notion that Conan O’Brien has any reason to be upset at NBC.

"I don’t think anyone’s preventing people from watching Conan. He’s there," Seinfeld said, referring to O’Brien’s ratings declines, most of which can be attributed to poor lead-ins from Leno’s show and late local newscasts.

"I can’t blame NBC. They can’t hit the ball for you," he said. "They can only give you the bat."

Bottom line on the whole Leno-O’Brien debacle: "That’s showbiz. You gotta try new things," Seinfeld said.

Meanwhile, Seinfeld confirmed that he’ll appear in at least two episodes of "Marriage Ref," including a preview of the series planned to air following NBC’s broadcast of the closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics.