Luckily For GE, NBC's Not A Prop Trading Desk

I don’t watch late night TV on the networks.  One 15 minute episode of Tim and Eric is funnier than 6 months worth of Conan, Leno, Letterman or whoever else the networks put on.

I’ll just throw this quick comment out there on the Late Show debacle, purely from a trader’s point of view.

Jay Leno was and is NBC‘s top-producing, most consistent asset and they humiliated him twice in favor of other hosts.

First, in the early 90’s they made a failed play to give Letterman the time slot that Leno had earned.  They were lucky that the “trade” didn’t go through – Leno regularly kicks Dave’s ass in both the ratings and the demographics.  Not a few nights a week, but every night, like for years and years and years.

Next, they came out with some incredibly obnoxious announcement in 2004 that effectively sunsetted Leno’s time slot, promising it five years hence to Conan O’Brien.  So Leno spent the past five years as a lame duck if you will, then was moved into a primetime slot to compete against sitcoms, reality shows and serial scripted dramas.  The resulting disaster surprised no one except Team NBC.

The lesson is simple – Jay Leno is a blue chip, a core holding if you will.  You don’t screw around with with your Berkshire Hathaway position no matter how attractive Netflix or Steel Dynamics may look at the moment.

NBC trades like a first year desk assistant 2 days out of the training program.  Leno should tell them to go twist in the wind and do something online.

Oh, and as far as the “portfolio managers” who are making these decisions?  Maybe its time for NBC’s new owners at Comcast to find someone else to “run their money”.

OK, now read David Carr on the NBC disaster, he’s way more knowledgeable than me on this stuff:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/11/business/media/11carr.html?ref=business