Originally Posted by Patrick_S
I had recently read that Fox was having trouble getting the nationwide clearance and it was looking more and more that even if they did the late night show would not start at 11pm but rather 11:30 or even 12 in some markets. Really it sounds like a Fox deal wasn't anywhere near a reality.
I would bet that this was a primary factor in the decision. After watching Leno get forced out by unhappy affiliates, I'm sure Conan didn't want to walk into a situation where the affiliates were somewhat hostile from the beginning. Even if he substantially improved the 11 PM hour, there's no way the affiliates would recoup the money they were making when they had all of the ad revenue for the hour to themselves.
I think some of the posters here are over estimating the value of him owning the show. It's not as if it could ever go into syndication and make big money in that arena. That's not a knock on Conan just the reality that this type of show just doesn't play well in syndication.
This is really do or die time for Conan, if he fails to produce this time around he'll probably never get another shot.
The importance of owning the show has less to do with financial benefits than creative benefits. When he walked away from the Tonight Show, Conan had to walk away from all of the sketches and other material he'd developed over the 17 years he spent at NBC. Owning the show means greater creative control while making the show and the ability to bring any created assets with him wherever he goes next.
The nice thing about TBS is that no one really knows what the expectations are. Unless he underperforms Lopez, he can make an argument that he's succeeding. If this show tanks, he'll either go back to comedy writing or downgrade further to a "Talk Soup" style platform.
Originally Posted by Jeff Adkins
In the end, NBC did the right thing, no matter what your feelings are about Jay. The numbers prove it. They are making a lot more money again with Leno. Leno has managed to do very well, even on nights with a bad lead-in. They'll make back that $40 million they spent to send Conan packing in no time. Jeff Zucker is coming out of this looking pretty good.
Jeff Zucker is coming out of this looking good? This comment blows my mind. This entire mess is Jeff Zucker's fault. He came up with the scheme to try and have his cake and eat it too by attempting this phased transition between Jay and Conan. Sure, Jay should have spoken up if he wasn't comfortable with the deal, but in the end the buck stops with Zucker. The right thing would have been to tell Conan that Jay was still a more valuable asset and that if he was no longer comfortable at "Late Night" he is free to pursue other opportunities.
Clearly, Jay has proven that he is a more valuable asset than Conan. The right man ended up back on the Tonight Show, from any audience perspective. But everything in between was a complete catastrophe which did significant damage to the NBC brand.