This was posted on Thursday, June 5, 2017 by Rodney Ho on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
Conan O’Brien’s move to TBS six years ago after 17 years with NBC appears to have helped stretch him comedically and taken some pressure off being a bigger fish in a smaller pond.
Among his greatest moments have come when the network has sent him overseas and across the United States for specials in places such as Cuba, South Korea, Berlin, Qatar and Atlanta. He continues to draw a rabidly loyal younger audience than when he was on NBC and has pocketed awards for his work in the digital realm.
But being on a network like Atlanta-based TBS has also meant a lower profile as fellow hosts like James Corden and Jimmy Fallon stole his viral thunder. In the meantime, more politically topical weekly shows by Samantha Bee on TBS and John Oliver on HBO received more buzz.
Turner CEO John Martin told the Wrap TBS is going to reduce “Conan” from four days a week to one. Why? The late night talk show landscape is overcrowded and the format needs to be shaken up, he said. Indeed, Conan’s ratings lag behind those of “The Daily Show” and any of the broadcast talk shows.
Kevin Reilly, network president, later backtracked a bit, telling Variety that this is just a “maybe” and may not happen at all.
“He has a very full plate in things that we’re going to be going the next step on in the next six months,” Reilly said, “and that led him to ask me, ‘Well, how do we balance this with the talk show?’ He’s going to have a show on TBS for many years to come. Right now what form that takes in relation to these other endeavors is in flux. Is going to once a week a possibility? It is. That’s going to come from him when he’s ready to get his hands around that.”
O’Brien’s contract runs through 2018.
Going weekly would enable O’Brien to fashion more well-produced on-the-road pieces like Bee has since she joined the network last year. Plus, he already executive produces TBS’s scripted comedy “People of Earth” and as Reilly noted, other projects are in the pipeline.