Stay Tuned
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Thursday, April 15, 2010

What Happened With Conan

So now that all the trade magazines have had a chance to delve into it, let me ask the question, what happened with Conan O’Brien? Why did he end up at TBS instead of FOX?

Ironically, the reason Conan is not at FOX is the same reason he is no longer at NBC—the affiliates.

FOX affiliates—the local stations that carry the FOX network (WVAH FOX 11 in Huntington/Charleston) make good money by showing syndicated programming like “Seinfeld” and “Family Guy.” And, they also score good ratings with those reruns too. So they weren’t all that anxious to give them up. Even for Conan.

Plus, many of them had signed contracts to air certain programming between 11 p.m. and midnight that would’ve cost them a pretty penny to break. For example, several of the FOX owned and operated stations (O & Os) were obligated to carry “30 Rock” reruns. If they had been forced to abandon that for a Conan show, “Variety” estimates it could have cost the stations $40 million to $50 million.

But the FOX upper brass really wanted Conan, so they kept trying. Just Monday morning, “The Hollywood Reporter” ran a story that significant progress was being made. No one in the media saw the TBS train coming. Why? Because TBS already had a successful late night show with “Lopez Tonight.” No one ever dreamed they’d want to add another show. No one but TBS…

But according to reports, Conan wouldn’t even talk to TBS without assurances that George Lopez himself was okay with his show moving to midnight (Gee. I wonder why?). So Lopez called Conan and told him how great TBS was. That got Conan to the table and a deal was made.

So why did Conan do it? According to reports, TBS made him a very sweet deal. Good money and ownership of his show. But I know from personal experience how good the PR people at TBS really are. Maybe Conan saw some of that and just wanted to be a part of it.

TBS doesn’t reach every home, but it comes pretty close as a major basic cable network. And in all honesty, TBS will probably put Conan in more homes than FOX could have at the beginning due to the affiliate agreements. Plus, Conan would have been forced to go on the road and convince each FOX affiliate to pick up his show. Now he can just sit back and let the TBS PR machine do the work for him. And as I’ve said they’re very good at it.

Conan’s show will air Monday through Thursday at 11 p.m. beginning in November…