The Wall Street Journal today wrote that “TBS’s pricey Conan O’Brien experiment is flopping—and is about to get even more expensive.’
When the cable network hired Mr. O’Brien for more than $12 million per year in 2010, TBS executives hailed late night as its “next land of opportunity” and Mr. O’Brien as the “building block” to a network-wide revival.
In the nine months since “Conan”‘s debut, TBS has canceled its only other late-night show, George Lopez’s “Lopez Tonight,” and viewership of “Conan” has tumbled, by about 60% since its high-profile debut last fall.
WSJ reports that despite the shrinking audience, rather than backing away, TBS is doubling down on ‘Conan’ in an attempt to protect its investment. Further, as noted elsewhere, TBS will next month begin using its syndicated repeats of ‘The Big Bang Theory’ as a lead-in for Conan a couple of nights a week. While I have little doubt the reruns of TBBT will perform well for TBS, I’m not optimistic it will help Conan much, particularly if it’s instead of, rather than in addition to the two nights a week Conan generally gets a ‘Family Guy’ lead-in.