Moving Jay Leno to a nightly primetime show is a “major roll of the dice” for NBC, said David Hinckley in the New York Daily News. It does keep Leno—who is otherwise expected to leave the network when Conan O’Brien takes over the Tonight Show in 2009—“in the NBC house and, equally important, out of anyone else's house.” But there’s no telling if viewers want to see him at 10 p.m., when they’re used to watching shows about “doctors and cops.”
Don’t worry, said Patt Morrison in the Los Angeles Times, there will be an audience for Leno. “Baby boomers are toddling off into elder-hood,” so soon “the nation will be lining up for the seniors' Early Bird Dinner Special at 4 p.m., and then coming home to fall asleep right after the Leno monologue.”
You’ve got to wonder how Conan O’Brien feels about all of this, said James Poniewozik in Time. After all, it does steal his thunder a bit, as he’ll still be following Leno. And “is Conan still the New Jay, or now, in hierarchy, the New Old Conan? Is Jimmy Fallon no longer the New Conan but the new Carson Daly? Is Carson Daly the new Poker After Dark?” It’s all so confusing.
Not from a financial standpoint it isn’t, said Bill Carter in The New York Times. Although Leno “will command an enormous salary, probably more than $30 million a year, the cost of his show will be a fraction of what a network pays for dramas at 10 p.m.," which “average about $3 million an episode.” That’s “$15 million a week” compared to Leno at roughly “$2 million a week”—what would you do?