O’Brien outfoxes rumor mill: Headed to TBS


Conan O’Brien says his plan is working perfectly – he’s left network TV, twittered, is hitting the live stage and then will end up on basic cable. Turner Entertainment Network’s TBS will be his cable home. This is despite the widespread belief that talks with Fox Television Network were building a head of steam.

The show will air Monday through Thursday, from 11PM-12Midnight Eastern, moving the current occupant of that timeslot, “Lopez Tonight” with George Lopez back an hour.

Fox and O’Brien were thought to be closing in on a deal for a program during the same time slot, but there were concerns about getting affiliate to follow suit. For one thing, many of them were contractually tied into syndicated programming during the period; and for another, many of them were making good money off of the programming.

Lacking adequate national coverage, the new O’Brien offering would have been in danger of a quick exit, as happened with the Jay Leno experiment with prime time that ultimately lead to O’Brien’s current exodus.

According to TVGuide.com, Turner’s Steve Koonin commented, “Conan has been the comedic voice for a generation. TBS already has a huge audience of young comedy lovers, and Conan’s show will give these fans even more reasons to watch our network. For decades, late-night TV has been dominated by broadcast television. Now, with a young audience and a growing late-night lineup, TBS is set to be the choice of comedy fans for years to come.”

RBR-TVBR observation: TBS has the advantage of being one single entity. On the broadcast side, there was the network, and the added complexity of multiple separately-owned local affiliates. There were reportedly numerous issues on that front which may or may not have had viable solutions. This deal should face no such obstacles.