Decline & Fall Of A TV Empire

The TV landscape is about to change, at least at NBC.

NBC president Jeff Zucker announced Monday that the network is considering cutting back the number of hours it offers per week. NBC could resemble Fox, in that it will offer programming from the 8-10 p.m. hours in primetime.

But that isn't written in stone, because NBC is also expected to announce today that Jay Leno will be getting a new, "Tonight Show" style show once his gig on "The Tonight Show" is over and he is replaced by Conan O'Brien.

Leno's show will run in that 10 p.m. timeslot Mondays-Fridays, effectively saving NBC five hours of programming a week, meaning the network would have to spend less money developing new scripted series with the cheaper option of Leno's new show.

The new NBC wrinkle, which comes on top of the network's other struggles I detailed last week, is a sad sign for TV for several reasons.

For one, it seems like NBC is raising a white flag by not trying to develop additional programming to pull itself out of its current fourth-place funk. For another, it's a real sign of how bad the economy is that NBC is trying to save as much money as it possibly can rather than spend it on developing new series.

One can only wonder what is next for the beleaguered network.

TUESDAY'S BEST BETS: Not a whole lot of new stuff on as we get closer into the holiday season. "House" (Fox, 8 p.m.) and "Privileged" (CW, 9 p.m.) are pretty much the only new things on tonight on the networks.

On cable, if you missed the premiere of "Leverage" on Sunday, TNT is re-running the pilot at 9 p.m. before the series settles into its regular 10 p.m. timeslot with a new episode.