So why is everyone dumping on Leno and Conan. It's NBC that screwed up.
Let's reflect on that a little more:
A. the issue of trying to keep both Leno and O'Brien actually started 5 or 6 years ago, when NBC feared (with good reason) O'Brien was going to leave for another network at the end of his contract. By dangling the Tonight Show in front of O'Brien, they got him to sign on for another 5 or 6 very profitable years, v. losing him back then to another network;
B. NBC has clearly decided that, unless one of them voluntarily leaves, it will now be forced to pick between Leno and O'Brien. They appear to have chosen Leno, presumably NOT because Leno is a more attractive personality right now, but because they might not have to pay anything to O'Brien, if the rumors about the terms of his deal (no guaranteed time slot) are true;
C. The whole brouhaha has, I have no doubt, driven NBC's ratings through the roof in the lead in to the Olympics, which means NBC is likely to recoup, in due course, some of the money they and their affiliates have lost over the last few months prior to rejigging the late night lineup. Helping to boost NBC's ratings are Letterman, Kimmel, Ferguson, et al, who are obsessing every night about the whole thing and causing (I'm sure) people to tune to Leno/Tonight Show to see what all the fuss is about.
D. The whole thing is raising Leno & O'Brien's market value to the point where Fox or ABC or Comedy Central (NBC's competitors, all) will likely have to pay two or three times what they might have had to pay a few weeks ago to land Leno or O'Brien, once one of them is voted off the island.
Stupid NBC, indeed