Jimmy Fallon will likely replace Jay Leno after his contract ends in 2014. NBC might announce in May that Fallon's late night talk show, Late Night: Jimmy Fallon, will replace Late Show with Jay Leno in 2014.
Late Night: Jimmy Fallon airs at 12:25 am EST weeknights while Late Show With Jay Leno airs in the highly coveted 11:35pm EST time slot.
Leno's contract with NBC expires at the end of the 2013-2014 season and NBC will likely move forward on the idea because of the success their direct competitor ABC has had with the younger Jimmy Kimmel Live since they moved Kimmel to the 11:35 time slot last year. Kimmel has been "competitive" with Leno in attracting 18-49 age range viewers, so there would be a "soft launch" of airing Late Night: Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm EST in beginning the summer months of 2014.
"The more time Jimmy Kimmel is in that slot, the more the young audience goes that way, the harder it is for [Fallon] to keep that audience," a source told The Hollywood Reporter.
Kimmel has surprisingly been "neck to neck" with the talk show veteran with garnering the viewing audience that is highly coveted in television advertising revenue.
"Kimmel has done extremely well," a veteran confirmed to THR while unaware of NBC's plans. "Jay wins overall, but on any given night, it's neck-and-neck in 18-49. I understand where they might have fear and also feel that they own the solution [in Fallon.]"
Should NBC announce that Fallon will replace Leno next year, it could be very lucrative for the Peacock network as NBC would likely benefit from the idea selling "Jay's last year - again" following their fiasco with former president Jeff Zucker and Conan O'Brien.
A rep for Leno told THR that they "do not speculate on rumor."