Despite Critics & Twitter, “Jay Leno” Gets High Marks


Empower MediaMarketing Study Compares Online and Offline Opinions of The Jay Leno Show

Cincinnati, Ohio – Sept. 24, 2009 – With week one in the can, the general opinion of The Jay Leno Show depends on the source. Nearly 74 percent of viewers watching during debut week give it a grade of A or B. However critics and Twitter users have reacted negatively. The findings were published in the study “The People Have Spoken: Comparing Opinions on The Jay Leno Show Across Traditional Media, Social Media and Viewers” by Empower MediaMarketing.

While Leno scored big in the ratings and public opinion for his premiere, mainstream media critics were not so kind. Reviews in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and USA Today all panned the show; many calling it a rehashed version of Leno’s The Tonight Show.

The premiere, featuring a much-hyped interview with Kanye West, helped propel ratings and buzz across social media platforms as thousands of online pundits weighed in. How do the sentiments expressed by traditional national media and American public opinion compare to social media?

No Love Lost Online for Leno
To discover this Empower commissioned a public opinion study of 1,000 adults 18 and older. Empower also utilized ChatterWatch℠, its proprietary social media analysis tool, to identify conversations about the show on blogs, message boards and Twitter. The study is available online for download.

Reviewing a sample of 500 tweets mentioning Leno during the first week of his show makes it clear that, for the most part, consumers on Twitter do not like The Jay Leno Show. While 18 percent of the sample offered an opinion of the show, 75 percent of the Twitter-based reviews were negative.

Almost 45 percent of Twitter messages were focused on Leno’s guests. Kanye West’s interview alone accounted for half of these tweets. Halle Berry denying pregnancy rumors (along with her short dress) had the twittersphere buzzing. Automaker Ford got a nice buzz boost from the show as well. Its Green Car Challenge race was an environmentalist favorite. Links to Drew Barrymore’s initial drive in Ford’s new electric vehicle was retweeted frequently.

High Level of Show Awareness
Whether you’re a Leno lover or hater, NBC’s multimillion-dollar promotional efforts behind the new 10 p.m. program seem to have worked. First night ratings for the show were the best for NBC in the time slot since November 2008. And after one week, 69 percent of adults were aware of Jay Leno’s move to primetime.

“The study shows how important it is to listen to the online space,” says Empower senior vice president of Consumer Insights Julie Pahutski. “We found a variety of conversations across media critics, consumer generated media and public opinion about the show—these days everyone has a voice. It’s a lesson to evaluate online and offline sentiment together, or marketers are only seeing half of the picture.”

The Future? Cautiously Optimistic
Regardless of the initial feedback, will viewers continue to watch the show? Sixty-five percent of adult viewers say they expect to watch the show at least twice a week in the future, while 27 percent of viewers say they expect to watch four or more shows a week.

But the long term success of The Jay Leno Show will be determined over the coming year through advertiser support. And as the most enthusiastic viewers for the show are adults 25 to 44-years-old, the group most coveted by advertisers, NBC’s strategy is launching The Jay Leno Show in the right direction.

About Empower’s Study
“The People Have Spoken: Comparing Online and Offline Opinions on The Jay Leno Show” is available online for download. The public opinion survey was conducted among 1,000 US adults ages 18 or older, and was commissioned by Empower. It was conducted online on Sept. 17 and 18, 2009. It reflects a proportionate mix of age, genders and regions across the United States. During The Jay Leno Show’s first week, Empower also monitored traditional media reviews for the show and used ChatterWatch℠ to collect conversations from blogs and message boards. Empower also analyzed a sampling of 500 Twitter messages to gauge discussion in the social media space.

About Empower MediaMarketing
Empower specializes in reaching its clients’ customers through paid and earned media channels. Empower’s services include media planning and buying, a full-service digital practice, word of mouth marketing, social media marketing, media marketing strategy and consulting, and a consumer insights group that offers consumer research, ROI analysis and several proprietary tools. For more information, visit us online and follow us on Twitter.

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