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Conan O'Brien to TBS: The goods, and the bads

Former ?The Tonight Show? host Conan O?Brien performs

Former ?The Tonight Show? host Conan O?Brien performs at the Hult Center for the Performing Arts in Eugene, Ore., Monday, April 12, 2010. O?Brien, who quit the show rather than host it at 12:05 a.m. after the return of Jay Leno to late night television, is kicking off his ?The Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour? in Eugene. O'Brien is expected to return to television in November on cable station TBS. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)



  Let's break it down!

  Is Conan O'Brien's move to TBS a good thing or a bad thing?

 Good question, and here are the ten good things, and the ten not-such-good things.


 1.) Foremost, far and away...this immensely gifted late night guy will have a TV home come November. We, the viewers, win as well.

2.) He'll pretty much be able to do whatever the heck he wants - which means this will likely be more like "Late Night" than "Tonight," though his "Tonight" was inspired too.

3.) Friday's off. Co will be able to get some rest, hang with the family.

4.) No TV stations to worry about. Work on a TV network, expect to pay obeisance to some degree to the constituents, namely the affiliates. They have their own needs and demands and problems - and sometimes those needs are anathema  to the talent; that's a nice way o' saying they can be a pain in the butt.

5.) Low expectations. TBS will be happy with anything. Or so the all-knowing blogs stipulate...

 6.) The 11 p.m. start time is a nice time, though it does cut into "Colbert."

 7.) Thanks to "Family Guy" reruns - a lot of 'em - TBS does have a younger audience profile which is presumably the sort of audience that watches Co anyway.

 8.)  He got a decent salary -  $10 mill-plus. This means Co will be able to continue living in the lifestyle that he has become accustomed to. Plus, it's very expensive in LA. A gallon of milk costs $675.00. A new car: $5.6 million. A night out at Mickey D's - $75,000.

 9.) Even if Co doesn't get much of a lead-in, his audience/fans will find him. Presumably they know how to work a remote, and program their DVR.

10.) Less of a network to cross-promote - work for Fox and you've got to promote everyting from "Idol" to the new "X Factor." At TBS, pretty much the only home-grown talent is Tyler Perry. I expect he'll be on Co's new show quite often.


 The bads:

 1.) TBS? TBS!!!??? TEEE BEEE ESSS!!! You are kidding, right? 

 2.) Affiliate nonsense aside, Fox would have been better simply because it would have been the bigtime; TBS is the smalltime.

 3.) His lead-ins will be low. Maybe some people will stick around after watching another repeat of "Family Guy," but doubtful that many will. I suspect he'll need to attract a totally different audience from the one that normally drifts to TBS.

 4.) Weak promotion. This is a major problem. There are simply few on-site promotional opportunities at TBS. Sure, you can pop a few avails in "My Boys" or "House of Payne," but TBS does not really have any major destination programs, NBA aside. It'll just be hard to generate many impressions among viewers who actually watch TBS - so that means outside promotion. That's certainly possible, but not optimal.

 5.) Unclear how serious TBS is, really is, about building itself into a first-class network. 

 6.) This all feels like a second choice - like Co got dumped by his date before he went to the prom. Good heavens, the man was the former host of "The Tonight Show," the most prestigious job in all of show business. Now, he's George Lopez's lead-in.

 7.) Co may - and I say may only - struggle to get A+ guests, who'll wanna go to "Tonight," Fergie, Kimmel instead.

 8.) By not clearing Friday for Co, TBS seems to be saying that movie repeats are more importtant than their expensive new late night guy. That's an odd message to send.

 9.) Friday - where movies will continue to air - is a hugely important edition in late night TV. It's the kick-back end of week edition. Co will now end his week on Thursdays.

 10.) TBS will in fact expect great things from Co; you don't pay someone $10 million to get a 1.5 rating in 18-49; expectations will be huge, yet there are built-in disadvantages at TBS that Co will have to overcome. In some respects , there's nothing he can do about those because he can't make the lead-in, etc.


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