NBC latenight chief Rick Ludwin is admitting the network messed up when it declared Conan O’Brien the king of late night after one week of ratings.
"I think it was premature," Ludwin said of NBC’s press release crowning O’Brien king. "We were very proud of the show (and its ratings). And there were those who had predicted that Conan wouldn’t be broadbased."
Would Ludwin issue the same press release again?
"No," he said, later adding that NBC is "not disappointed in Conan’s ratings at all."
Ludwin, speaking to reporters at NBC’s portion of the TV Critics Assn. press tour, also revealed some tidbit about Jay Leno’s new 10 p.m. comedy show.
Leno will limit musical guests to twice per week most weeks, in part because of research showing viewers want more comedy in primetime. In addition, Ludwin said producers will try to book innovative musical pairings, "kind of like you’d see at the Grammy Awards."
Leno’s show will end each night with a comedy segment, with Leno plugging affiliates’ late local news at the very end of the show. NBC is encouraging affiliates to go directly from Leno’s show to news, without inserting commercials in-between.