June 7, 2006
Is It The Tonight Show if You Watch It the Next Morning?

Network wars seem to be battled as often online as on television these days. Previous posts have outlined issues such as the expansion of news content online by NBC and ABC. However, now the deals for ways in which content can be accessed on iTunes are increasing experimentation.

Case in point: the new distribution deal for Jay Leno's Tonight Show, which airs on NBC. The network's staple late show was launched on iTunes in December with sample episodes lasting less than five minutes in length, according to Michele Greppi's article in TelevisionWeek. Now, Leno's complete monologue will be made available for download, as well as comedy bits from the show.

Each set of clips will cost the traditional $1.99, but a 20-monologue mutipass will cost $9.99.

Will avid Leno fans be willing to download episodes, or will fans choose to cash in on a multipass? And, if Leno is successful, maybe we'll see an online reprisal of the Letterman vs. Leno wars. Perhaps an even better question--how does the loss of timeliness affect the entire idea of a "late show?" In the end, is programming that suggests its temporality such as news or daily variety shows as easy to turn into paid downloadable content, stripped of its "airing time"? How will shows like The Tonight Show perform alongside more serial fare such as Lost or Desperate Housewives?