Jay Leno: TV’s Shilling-est Man Alive

The comic’s new primetime show may be hurting in the ratings, but it’s racking up the product placement dollars

Last Updated: December 13, 2009 @ 3:29 PM

 When NBC announced Jay Leno’s big primetime adventure, it said product placement and integration would be a key part of the show.

They weren’t kidding.

Leno’s 10 p.m. talk show had more product placements than anything else on TV by a mile, according to Nielsen data uncovered by Time magazine TV critic and Tuned In blogger James Poniewozik.

Per the report, during his first few months on the air, Leno has managed a whopping 1,015 product placements (and counting). By contrast, runner-up "WWE Monday Night Raw" had 787, while NBC’s "The Biggest Loser" had 704.

Leno dominated despite the fact that he’s been in primetime for only a few months. In fairness, as Mr. Tuned In notes, Leno is also the only show on the list that airs five times a week.

It’s also worth noting that the Nielsen list only covers primetime. Had daytime and syndicated shows been included, there’s no doubt shows such as "Entertainment Tonight" and "The View" would have done very, very well.

And if you’ve watched your late local newscast lately, you’ve probably noticed that everything from the five-day forecast to the play of the day has a sponsor attached.

One other note: Assuming all these product plugs were paid, this staggering stat may be one more reason NBC isn’t completely crying over Leno’s ratings impact.  (Although given the relatively low ad rates "The Jay Leno Show" is pulling, the plethora of product placement may just be making up for traditional ad dollars.)

Here, courtesy of Time and the party people at Nielsen, is the full top 10 list of product placements. At no extra cost, we’ve also thrown in Nielsen’s list of the 10 most time-shifted shows on TV in 2009.

(The company today also released a top-10 series list, but used household ratings. CBS barely even mentions household numbers these days. So we’re making an editorial decision to ignore that part of the list.)


1. The Jay Leno Show (1,015 placements)
2. WWE Monday Night Raw (787)
3. The Biggest Loser (704)
4. American Idol (553)
5. Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (483)
6. The Celebrity Apprentice (428)
7. Top Chef: Las Vegas (412)
8. America’s Next Top Model (380)
9. Project Runway (350)
10. Dancing With the Stars (331)

TIMESHIFTED SERIES (with percentage gains over live- plus same day rating)

1 Battlestar Galactica SYFY 59.4
2 Mad Men AMC 57.7
3 Damages FX 56.3
4 Rescue Me FX 53.2
5 True Blood HBO 46.9
6 Stargate Universe SYFY 46.9
7 Sanctuary SYFY 45.9
8 Heroes NBC 45.9
9 Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles FOX 45.5
10 10 Things I Hate About You FAM 44.9
10 Dollhouse FOX 44.9
10 Melrose Place CW 44.9