The final chapters of any proposed Late Shift sequel are now being written as Conan O’Brien has chosen to go with TBS over proposed frontrunner, Fox, when he makes his return to late night TV.  The surprise announcement was made today and is already all over the internet.  Commenting on the move, Conan made the following statement in his own inimitable style: “In three months, I’ve gone from network television to Twitter
to performing live in theaters, and now I’m headed to basic cable.  My plan is working
perfectly.”

Now that the late night dust has settled, it might seem curious that Conan would make this move over the no-brainer Fox alternative.  But that seeming obvious choice would have led to more issues in making the move than would at first be apparent.  EW.com broke it down thusly: Right now, the Fox-owned stations
air off-net sitcoms in the time slot and reap huge profits because they
sell up to 11 minutes of ad time during the hour. If the lucrative time
slot reverted back to the network, the stations would have lost about
half the commercial time – which would have resulted in the loss of
millions and millions of dollars in ad revenue. There was also the
issue of contractual obligations; some stations offered time slot
guarantees to off-net shows so the stations would face potential
lawsuits if they bumped comedy reruns for O’Brien. To avoid legal
troubles, some stations would have had to air O’Brien in later time
slots for the short term.

The talks with TBS began only last week.  Conan is currently set to embark on a two-month comedy tour.  No details of what format his new will follow exactly yet have been laid out, although it is known that the show will air at 11:00 PM weeknights, Monday through Thursday.  This will mean that the current late night occupant on TBS, George Lopez and his Lopez Tonight will get bumped.  But there’s apparently no new late night fracas brewing. as Lopez released the following statement: “I can’t think of anything better than doing my show with Conan as a lead-in.”  Lopez also reportedly called Conan himself.  Conan can’t come back until September due to his agreement with NBC.

UPDATE: Here’s the press release:

Conan Picks a Home – And It’s TBS

Comedy icon Conan O’Brien is joining TBS to host a late-night talk show that is expected to debut in November. The EmmyÒ-winning comedian’s new program will be followed by Lopez Tonight, which will shift to a midnight time slot.

O’Brien began talks in earnest with TBS just last week, after George Lopez personally called him to ask that he consider joining the network’s late-night line-up. “I can’t think of anything better than doing my show with Conan as my lead-in,” Lopez said. “It’s the beginning of a new era in late-night comedy.”

Said O’Brien: “In three months I’ve gone from network television to Twitter to performing live in theaters, and now I’m headed to basic cable. My plan is working perfectly.”

O’Brien and Lopez will give TBS a dynamic lineup in late-night television. TBS – which has built a programming slate that appeals to a young, diverse audience – expects O’Brien to be a long-term addition to the network’s late-night landscape. O’Brien will host his hour-long, yet-to-be-titled show Mondays through Thursdays at 11 p.m. (ET/PT).

“Conan has been the comedic voice for a generation. TBS already has a huge audience of young comedy lovers, and Conan’s show will give these fans even more reasons to watch our network,” said Steve Koonin, president of Turner Entertainment Networks.

With the addition of O’Brien’s show, TBS will establish two hours of late-night talk. Lopez Tonight, while just a few months old, has already become a destination show for a diverse audience. The Lopez Tonight audience is young as well, with a median age of just 34.

“For decades, late-night TV has been dominated by broadcast television,” Koonin said. “Now, with a young audience and a growing late-night lineup, TBS is set to be the choice of comedy fans for years to come.”

O’Brien is well-known from his many years in comedy. He grew up in a large, Irish Catholic family in a suburb of Boston . His love of comedy began at an early age and carried on when he entered Harvard University , where he earned a degree in history. During his years at Harvard, he also wrote for the legendary Harvard Lampoon publication, eventually serving as its president.

After leaving Harvard, O’Brien went to Los Angeles , where he found several writing jobs for television, including HBO’s Not Necessarily the News. After returning to the East Coast, O’Brien joined the writing team at Saturday Night Live, earning his first Emmy in 1989. He was writing for the hit show The Simpsons when Lorne Michaels approached him about a new late-night series for NBC. In 1993, Late Night with Conan O’Brien launched. The show ran for 16 years, ending when O’Brien briefly took over The Tonight Show.

O’Brien is currently touring the United States and Canada with his live show, Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour.

TBS, a division of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., is television’s top-rated comedy network. It serves as home to such original comedy series as My Boys, Tyler Perry’s House of Payne and Meet the Browns, as well as the upcoming Neighbors from Hell and Are We There Yet?; the hit late-night series Lopez Tonight, starring George Lopez; hot contemporary comedies like The Office and Family Guy; and specials like Funniest Commercials of the Year; blockbuster movies; and hosted movie showcases. TBS also presents major live events, including star-studded comedy festivals in Chicago and Las Vegas .

Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner company, creates and programs branded news, entertainment, animation and young adult media environments on television and other platforms for consumers around the world.


Thanks to Brian for the tip.