People would rather spend the 10 PM hour watching previously DVR’d recordings than watching Jay Leno.
The problem isn’t Jay Leno, who remains an occassionally funny, marginally likeable and affable fellow. The problem is with when NBC has scheduled his show. My gut-feeling is that if his show were on at 7 p.m. as the prime-time lead in, it would be viewed as a success. People don’t really want to pay attention to the television, even if it’s on, between 7-8p.m. and then again at 11:35 p.m. when they begin to fall asleep. It’s why shows like Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune are on at 7 p.m. At 10 p.m., however, they still crave a meaty drama, which clearly Leno is not.