THR reports that Jay Leno is close to a deal that will ensure his return to television stays within the NBC family. The former “Tonight Show” host will try to rescue CNBC from its abysmal ratings by hosting a program that will air in primetime and focus on his love of automobiles:
Landing Leno is a coup for CNBC. The network known for financial news has suffered ratings lows during its traditional daytime programming but has had success broadening its viewership by airing reality shows like The Profit and Restaurant Startup in primetime. Its biggest hit is reruns of financial game show Shark Tank, which have performed very well for the network.
Leno, 64, has been looking for the right home since he passed the Tonight Show baton to Jimmy Fallon before the Winter Olympics in February. Sources say he was courted by several outlets, including CNN, A&E, History and the Tribune stations. But Leno has been loyal to NBC (his car-themed web series Jay’s Garage is still hosted on NBC.com), and he has a relationship with CNBC president Mark Hoffman. CNBC aired a Jay’s Garage special over the Labor Day weekend called Jay’s Garage: The Ultimate Car Week.
As of now there’s no premiere date or any word on how frequently the show would air.
John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC