NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt previously hinted of a February departure date during the Television Critics Association tour. The timing of the switch will certainly garner NBC more attention during their coverage of the Winter Olympics and will likely give them an extra boost in ratings.
“The big strategic discussions, we’ve been having those discussions since I arrived here” said Greenblatt. ”We knew that we had a platform in the Olympics in the season that we weren’t going to have again for four years. We wanted to make the transition when the time period was really strong to give Jimmy Fallon the best chance of succeeding.”
However, Leno’s contract doesn’t actually end until September 2014. According to The Hollywood Reporter, staff were told of the upcoming end date and will be paid until the end of Leno’s contract with NBC. However, Leno might not be leaving NBC altogether. Greenblatt said the network’s relationship with the television host may not be over yet.
“Nothing would make us happier than to have him — a la Bob Hope — stay on the network,” said Greenblatt. “Jay has done an incredible job for more than two decades… He’s actually one of the nicest people you will ever meet. And he’s been a great team player in all of these transitional discussions.”