It’s official – Conan O’Brien is moving to TBS:
“In three months I’ve gone from network television to Twitter to performing live in theater, and now I’m headed to basic cable,” O’Brien said in the statement. “My plan is working perfectly.”
He also Tweeted Monday: “The good news: I will be doing a show on TBS starting in November! The bad news: I’ll be playing Rudy on the all new Cosby Show.”
In an increasingly multi-platform-al (a word) media environment, being on basic cable isn’t quite the kids’ table it used to be, and the lack of network pressure on TBS and its basic-cableness in general might allow Conan and his writers unprecedented freedom on the show, an assuredly positive thing. With a concentrated web presence and a little more rope from a station that’ll be thrilled to have him in any capacity, Conan may thrive like never before, especially riding his current wave of intensely positive buzz and fan support.
On the downside, basic cable is still basic cable, so Conan automatically loses casual viewers and casual ratings points, and will never officially be going up against Leno and Letterman, for whatever that’s worth status-wise. Plus, the fact that his show’s absurdity was occurring on network tv in front of some portion of bewildered random tv-spectators was part of the allure; absurd shows on basic cable — the home of Comedy Central, Cartoon Network, FX, etc — are commonplace, which certainly alters the show’s identity (though for sure, the “NBC doesn’t care about us or give us any budget” dynamic should transition seamlessly into “Now I’m on basic cable”).
Still, after the initial surprise at this news (especially in the wake of Fox rumors earlier today), there’s no reason to judge the situation until we see some episodes. Obviously, if fans show Conan’s TBS show one tenth of the support he received during the NBC Tonight Show fiasco, he’ll be fine. Or in other words, he’ll be fine.
Reactions, Team Coco? Leave ‘em in the comments.