The good news for the struggling talk show by Conan O’Brien on TBS is that the network appears ready to work on an ambitious program to build ratings for the show and to stop the slide in ratings. Since it’s debut the show has slid from 2 million viewers down to an average of 709,000 viewers, or a 60% audience erosion. Fans of the show were alarmed when LOPEZ TONIGHT was canceled by the network last week as a likely sign that cancellation of CONAN may be next. However, this appears to be part of a rescue plan by TBS to build a block of good comedy shows to help support CONAN in the ratings and build an audience.
The smash hit CBS comedy, THE BIG BANG THEORY, is going into syndication this September, and TBS is planning to spend $2 million an episode to bring this hit show over to the network to use as a lead-in to CONAN two nights a week while working on expensive new original comedy programming meant to create a stronger ratings night for the network. Under this scenario, it’s easy to see where the lowly rated George Lopez comedy talk show just didn’t fit in. It was a very weak lead-in for CONAN, and was perhaps partially responsible for the ratings damage to the show.
So fans of CONAN can rest easy for now. TBS hopes to rebuild the audience for CONAN, and still has faith that the show can become the centerpiece of a programming plan for a ratings powerful late night comedy block. If the ratings rescue plan works as planned, ratings for CONAN should start to improve during September and after. If not, then you can expect TBS to look at replacing CONAN with something that builds a stronger ratings.
This is CONAN’s last and best shot to remain on TBS and as a late night TV host. If he blows this last opportunity his days as a talk show host are probably over and finding work hosting a talk show may be over in the industry.