The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien: Cancelled, What’s Next for Conan?

The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien canceledNo matter if you’re on Team Conan or Team Leno, we can all agree that NBC has serious problems. The Jay Leno Show experiment is a big flop and, though the network seemed okay with its low ratings (likely because of the relative low expense), the NBC affiliate stations weren’t. Their local newscasts were being hurt by the poor lead-in.

The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien got off to a good start but the ratings quickly dropped. As a result, the Tonight Show is being regularly beaten or tied by Late Show with David Letterman. During Jay Leno’s rein, Tonight had a big lead over the Late Show for more than a dozen years. The peacock network was hoping that O’Brien would attract a bigger percentage of the 18-49 demographic but it hasn’t happened.

The O’Brien camp’s argument is that the new Tonight has had a poor lead-in and that they’ve not been given enough time to establish the show. After all, Leno’s Tonight wasn’t an immediate success and the network was patient.

But apparently, time is a luxury that NBC either does not have or is not willing to give. As a result of pressure from the affiliates, and likely because of the upcoming Comcast purchase, NBC is cancelling O’Brien and return Leno to Tonight.

Where should O'Brien go?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

TV Guide has confirmed that NBC has re-signed Leno to host The Tonight Show. The details are apparently still being worked out but O’Brien’s final show could come as soon as January 22nd. The show was already scheduled to be on hiatus the following week.

Barring any last minute changes, Leno will return to Tonight once NBC finishes its coverage of the Winter Olympics.

What’s next for O’Brien? Reportedly, O’Brien’s exit deal won’t prohibit him from immediately going to a competitor. So, he’ll likely end up doing a new late night show for another network — the scenario that NBC tried to avoid by setting up the Tonight deal six years ago.

At one time, it would have seemed like a done deal that O’Brien would be heading for ABC. But the alphabet network has been having some success with their own late night schedule and aren’t interested in changing. Earlier this week, ABC chief Steve McPherson said that he has no plans to change their current lineup.

O’Brien’s other big option is FOX, now headed by former NBC boss Kevin Reilly. Official talks between O’Brien and any network can’t begin until he’s released from his NBC contract but it’s believed there is serious interest. O’Brien’s humor meshes better with FOX’s image and younger demographic so the two could be a very good fit. Some affiliate stations aren’t pleased by the possibility though because, right now, they’re airing syndicated programming after their newscasts and doing well from the ad revenue.

What do you think? Where should O’Brien go? How long will it take him to get back on the air with a new show? Will you be watching?

Canceled and renewed TV show

39 Comments · Read them below or add one

    • Bookworm says

      I’m wondering what in my comments made you think I was a guy? I’m not.
      BTW it’s ‘isn’t afraid of anything’ not ‘doesn’t afraid of anything’.

  1. Shannon says

    Hmm. My question is: I Jimmy Fallon affected by this? I honestly do not care for him, but will they do anything about his show? And another question: Does anybody care about Carson Daly? AT ALL?

  2. Anonymous says

    no wonder ur name is bookworm……. bookworm….!!!!i mean seriously…..conon is so so so funny…..!!!!naturally funny…not writers trying to help him wid segments and non funny car races to keep the show going…!!!!

    • Bookworm says

      And maybe you should try reading a bit. Maybe you’d learn to write above the 1st grade level, and spell of the name of the person you’re trying to compliment correctly.

  3. Brian from Cali says

    I think he should take a vacation for sure and see how he feels about continueing on television. I love his show but this kind of thing can take the wind out of your sails. Self reflect for a minute then start working again. The work will be there when you want it to. Good luck Conan!

  4. kirk says

    Picture’s 1992, Jay has just begun hosting the Tonight Show and Johnny Carson decides to host a copy cat version of the show every evening 90 minutes before the Tonigth Show…Jay would have failed even worse than poor Conan did. Jay needed to GO AWAY and let Conan succeed, but he had his eye on his old spot and so he created this situation.. I for one will never watch the selfish Jay Leno again and I hope he fails miserably. He has shown his true colors…he’s a selfish *******.

    • Bookworm says

      That comparison doesn’t even remotely work. I get it, you’re a blind Conan fan. But it’s pretty ridiculous not to be able to see that Jay is not the bad guy here, neither is Conan (and I prefer Jay to him, 1000-fold). NBC were the ones who screwed around. Carson CHOSE to retire, Jay didn’t. He was pushed out, then held on to be a network who wanted him out but not gone because they realized that he had a following. And now that Conan’s lost half of what Jay had, they’re attempting to screw around some more. So be pissed at the situation, but don’t be a moron (though I suspect that might be difficult for you as well as many others). Find the right people to be pissed at, not just who you’ve chosen as a convenient scapegoat.

  5. Janis says

    CONAN ROCKS! I only started regularly watching because of him, before I never bothered. He is hilarious. Wherever he goes, his crowd will follow—NBC has made a big mistake.

  6. Caroline says

    I like Jay, but I love Conan. He’s a really funny guy, and it was so great to see him back with Andy. They are very funny together. I don’t think he’s strange. He just has a quirky sense of humor, and I find it refreshing. What a bummer that he’s not going to be on anymore. I wouldn’t watch David Letterman….he seems bitter, and I’m sorry, but Jay is nice, but I wouldn’t watch him anymore. I’ll follow Conan where ever he goes. A Conan / Craig Ferguson back to back would be great. Both are the funniest guys around.

  7. Bill Clinton says

    I haven’t watched an episode of Letterman or Leno in 10 years. Craig Ferguson and Conan are far more entertaining. If Conan’s show appears somewhere else I will watch it.

  8. says

    conan is the only funny late night host….rest al are stupid and they need segments and writers to keep thier show going and funny….that man(conan) is naturally funny……i mean leno is not even funny…..conan is way way better….!!!!!!GO TEAM CONAN..!!!!!

  9. Gail says

    I have always loved Jay and watched his show almost every night for 15 years!! I would also watch Conan the past few years when I could stay up and really enjoyed him as well. When I heard Jay was retiring I felt bad and was going to miss him but knew the tonight show was going to be in good hands with Conan. I’ve been watching Conan and love him. I think he toned his act down to accommodate the 11:35 viewers and did a great job. I can’t believe NBC wanted him to change his act completely to accommodate a wider variety of viewers. He had to tone it down a bit but to change it completely would have been disastrous for him. His act is what people want to see! I think Jay should back down now and leave things the way they are. NBC should be ashamed of themselves for doing this to Conan and I also believe it is going to hurt their network in the long run!!!

  10. James Mobile says

    Ive always loved watching Jay on tonight show, but i knew knocking all those show at 10 was going to suck for people who was not into late night talk shows, but into something with a storyline either comedy or drama. Even though ive enjoyed watching jay for all these years, he did surrender his show, his time is up, i say he should go and let Conan stay!

  11. valerie says

    I think Conan has a quick wit, more like Johnny Carson. Jay Leno seems more practiced and less spontaneous, and to me, a little boring (ho hum). He announced his retirement and handed the reins over to Conan. The idea, that they stuck his new show in the hour before Conan’s had to have an impact on Conan’s numbers. It’s too bad. I’ll be watching for Conan’s new show, hopefully on cable where he can really let loose and be innovative and original.

  12. Adam says

    Honestly, what the heck is NBC doing? Leno is getting older and older. Conan, you absolutely rock, and make me laugh every night. Leno- Your over the hill. We have all witnessed the Tonight Show with Leno, and we know he is funny, but the natural progression of the show must go on. I think it’s time for a new face after 17 years. Conan has waited in line for 15 years. As a member of generation Y, I believe Conan represents the change in power from the guy who my parents watched, to the the guy I watch. NBC is headed for chapter 11 folks. I guarentee, I will go out of my way to watch other stations. NBC, you will lose massive ratings because of this and i hope you all burn in hollywood HELL!!

  13. Anonymous says

    Conan is funnyer than jay but both of them are great I wish nbc was not stupid and they should not change any thing

  14. Robert says

    Jay’s faux retirement is causing all of these problems. He hosted The Tonight Show for almost 20 years and then personally chose Conan as his successor. Now he’s stabbing him in the back just to stroke his own ego. If Jay had any dignity or respect for the show, he would have made his exit gracefully and let Conan, who’s more than proven himself to be worthy of being a terrific host, take over late night.

    Afterall, Jay still does stand up and he could have kept himself busy doing that if anyone cared to see it. Unfortunately, Jay isn’t funny, and no one outside of LA or Las Vegas would pay to see his crappy act. Maybe if he were happier in his personal life he wouldn’t feel such a strong need for approval from his boring fans. Hey, at least he’ll always have Kevin Eubanks laughing at his cringe-worthy jokes!

Leave a Comment

Your comment may need approval from a moderator before it appears. We review comments to weed out spam, duplicate postings and personal attacks. We welcome constructive discussion.