If sources are to be believed, a Jay Leno retirement announcement could be coming soon. A new rumor claims that NBC is planning to announce in May that the 2013-14 television season will be Leno’s last.
The Hollywood Reporter got a denial from NBC about the planned shift, but did hear from “two high-level industry sources” that the idea is to phase Leno out and Jimmy Fallon in as “The Tonight Show” host next year. He would start at the gig with a soft launch in summer 2014.
Again, this is far from confirmed, but it makes some sense considering Jimmy Kimmel‘s recent shift to 11:35 p.m. Kimmel is popular with younger audiences in a way similar to Fallon, so NBC reportedly wants to make sure it doesn’t lose that viewership entirely by the time someone does replace Leno.
“The more time Jimmy Kimmel is in that slot, the more the young audience goes that way, the harder it is for Jimmy [Fallon] to keep that audience,” a source says. Another “network veteran” adds, “Kimmel has done extremely well. Jay wins overall, but on any given night, it’s neck-and-neck in 18-49. I understand where they might have fear and also feel that they own the solution [in Fallon.]”
THR speculates that NBC could announce Leno’s departure and Fallon’s takeover on or before May upfronts. NBC would then “get the benefit of selling Jay’s last year — again,” an insider claims.
Do you think Fallon would be a suitable replacement for Leno? Kimmel likely does.