Coco Goes Cable

I’m just surprised because never considered TBS a player with enough heft to compete against Fox, the rumored leader in the Conan quest.

It was a shock to hear Conan O’Brien is going to TBS. The fact that I seldom watch TBS, cable’s original Superstation, probably stands in Conan’s favor. They’re not going after me. TBS with its mix of comedies gets a significantly younger audience than over-the-air network affiliates.

The whole economic workup is different on cable. Even with a smaller audience more money can be made–especially if it’s a harder to reach young audience. Cable makes money from advertising and subscription fees. TBS feels they can afford a budget for Conan similar to NBC’s. That’s got to scare the people who run the legacy networks.

Jon Stewart graces magazine covers and hosts big-time award programs, all for hosting a program that airs half an hour four nights a week to an average audience of 1.7 million — or about what Conan O’Brien was averaging in 1994 when NBC was thisclose to firing his ass. – Aaron Barnhardt, Kansas City Star

TV advertising is ageist. Younger demos sell for more because younger viewers are tougher to reach. It seems anti-intuitive because people my age tend to have more money than we did 20-30 years ago, but that’s how it is.

While Mr. Leno now has a median age of 56, with Mr. Letterman at 54, “Nightline” at 55, Mr. Ferguson and Mr. Kimmel both at 52, and even NBC’s younger act, Jimmy Fallon, at 50, Mr. Stewart comes in with a median age of 40 and Mr. Colbert younger still at 37.

(Youngest of all late-night hosts? George Lopez on his “Lopez Tonight” show on TBS. He has a smaller audience, but a very young one, with a median age of just 33.) – Bill Carter in the New York Times

I’m just surprised because I’ve never considered TBS a player with enough audience heft to compete against Fox, the rumored leader in the Conan quest. All I can think about is how TBS baseball telecasts compared to Fox’s games. TBS does not compare favorably.

I’m still waiting for the first high profile mainstream talent to make the jump to ‘direct Internet.’ A successful Internet show (audience successful, not just revenue successful as Leo Laporte’s TWIT TV is) would turn the industry on its ear and change everything we know about broadcasting.

To Be F*** You Rich

We all want to be “F*** you rich.” We all want that opportunity to tell the boss off

tonight_show_with_conan_obrien.jpgMark this day down. January 12, 2010 is the day we all saw an example of someone who is “F*** you rich.”

We all want to be “F*** you rich.” We all want that opportunity to tell the boss off. We all want to demand the respect we deserve. We all want to say we know best, not he or she (I’ve had female bosses just as bad as any male boss).

We never do.

We can’t.

Our principles are fine in the abstract, but few of us have the guts to live a life ruled by principle. Principles are expensive. You can’t eat or pay the mortgage with principles.

Today Conan O’Brien lived the dream. No surprise he’s rich… but “F*** you rich!” Who knew?

Speaking of The Tonight Show he said:

So it has come to this: I cannot express in words how much I enjoy hosting this program and what an enormous personal disappointment it is for me to consider losing it. My staff and I have worked unbelievably hard and we are very proud of our contribution to the legacy of The Tonight Show. But I cannot participate in what I honestly believe is its destruction. Some people will make the argument that with DVRs and the Internet a time slot doesn’t matter. But with the Tonight Show, I believe nothing could matter more.

That’s principle speaking. It doesn’t come cheap. It doesn’t make as much difference when you’re “F*** you rich.” It’s still impressive.

Fortune is fickle. It’s often bestowed on the undeserving. Not Conan. He’s the man.

I’ll bet it’s good to be “F*** you rich.”

Blogger’s note: What a wuss. I can’t even write the word, though I know you know exactly what I mean. It’s part of my upbringing in the Ozzie and Harriet 50s.

Leno To 10PM–Very Smart

With this one move NBC guarantees its future going forward. It’s an offensive, defensive and strategic move all at the same time.

“NBC will keep Jay Leno five nights a week, but in prime time, competing not with David Letterman, but with shows like “C.S.I. Miami.” The network will announce Tuesday that Mr. Leno’s new show will appear at 10 o’clock each weeknight in a format similar to “The Tonight Show,” which he has hosted since 1993. – Bill Carter, NY Times

jay-conan.jpgThis is genius. With this one move NBC guarantees its future going forward. It’s an offensive, defensive and strategic move all at the same time.

No secret here–network television (and local television) is in sad shape. Our business model continues to deteriorate in this horrible economic climate and in the face of increased competition from the Internet. NBC and the other networks have to do something to remain viable.

Moving Jay Leno to 10:00 PM is a cost saving move. The Tonight Show, even with an enlarged budget, is light years cheaper to produce than scripted episodic television. I would guess the demographics are comparable, maybe even better than episodic fare.

Moving Jay Leno to 10:00 PM lets NBC run a program that it controls 100%. There is no one but Leno to deal with. I’d guess he’s getting a long term commitment.

Moving Jay Leno to 10:00 PM is a defensive move. With Conan O’Brien set to take the 11:35 PM slot there were rumors of Leno jumping to ABC. Obviously, that’s off the table. At this moment, NBC ‘owns’ all the established talk show talent except David Letterman–who has seen much better days.

This is bad news for the Hollywood production community. Five weekly hours of high budget TV will no longer be produced. That will throw a lot of people out-of-work.

How this move do anything but benefit NBC? Even slightly lower ratings than what’s being replaced (if that happens) still has the potential to produce higher net revenue. Whether the affiliates benefit remains to be seen. Over the past decade networks have shown less than unwavering support for their local stations.

Tweeting on Twitter, the Times Brian Stelter says, “Leno at 10 would seem somewhat DVR-proof and Web-proof — a smart move by NBC, right?”

I wonder if he’ll do the show live? He should.

My Sources Tell Me: Watch Letterman

I spoke with a friend tonight – a Hollywood insider. He told me David Letterman would be back from a week off on Monday and that his show would be:

1) special

2) dedicated to Johnny Carson

3) feature only one guest who was a true Carson insider

All I know is this is the same guy who told me, at least a week before it was announced, that an unknown named Conan O’Brien would be hosting after the Tonight Show on NBC.

My DVR is set.

Leno, Conan and the Tonight Show

Forget about the Tonight Show being an NBC tradition. Forget about Johnny and Steve Allen and everyone who has had their career launched there. For a moment, think of the Tonight Show as what it is for NBC, an incredible cash cow.

I have read many estimates of NBC’s profit from the Tonight Show. The prevailing wisdom is somewhere between $75-100,000,000 per year. That’s an unbelievable number, probably the most profitable program NBC runs – possibly more profitable than prime time.

That’s why today’s announcement concerning the Tonight Show is so strange. NBC consistently beats CBS in late night, yet in five years, Conan O’Brien will replace Jay Leno as the Tonight Show’s host.

I can’t think of an announcement NBC could have made that would be more surprising.

It just seems out of character that Jay Leno, a workaholic, devoted to performing, would do this on his own. It’s possible Conan put pressure on NBC – after all the CBS late night show is searching for a host and they don’t want to lose him. But how could NBC ask Jay to go?

None of it makes any sense to me. But now we have five years of hearing the ‘inside story’ and allowing egos to build and possibly boil over.