Conan O’Brien debuts on TBS this evening, finally making his way back to late-night television. The Conan premiere will begin at 11 p.m. on TBS across the country, and will now serve as a lead-in to George Lopez at midnight. TBS is hoping not only that viewers stick with Lopez, but that O’Brien can draw an even larger chunk of that midnight audience. Starting his show at 11 p.m. will give O’Brien a bit of an advantage over the shows on NBC and CBS, but now it will be up to him and his writing staff to see if they can secure a nice number of viewers on a nightly basis.
It seems like a distant memory when the NBC drama of Conan O’Brien vs. Jay Leno was taking place, and the statute for how long O’Brien had to be off the air finally came to an end with his new contract. Now Leno has his Tonight Show back, and the two will go head-to-head in the last half of the eleven o’clock hour. Just about everyone in the television industry will be watching to see if this gamble by TBS pays off in the end, and to find out just how many viewers O’Brien can take away from the big networks this late at night. Monday, Nov. 8, will be the debut episode of Conan, and you can bet that TBS, NBC, and CBS will all want to see those ratings numbers immediately.
There hasn’t been a lot revealed about how O’Brien will run his new show, or what exactly the format will look like once they get things rolling. It is assumed that it will have a familiar feel to what he did on NBC at 12:35 a.m., with a propensity to involve supporting characters in bits done before the guests come out. TBS and O’Brien may play around to see what works best in the time slot, but they might also be looking at this as an “anything goes” type of scenario. O’Brien has to offer something original and unique to get viewers interested in switching over to TBS after nightly shows on the primary networks, and we find out tonight if that will work.
Conan will run nightly from Monday through Friday, with new guests and skits coming out each night. One of the ways they could nab some viewers right out of the gate is by offering guests that the other networks don’t have yet, and if O’Brien can get some of the Harry Potter stars who will be making the rounds, he could get a nice ratings bump. We are all about to find out if all the money TBS is spending on O’Brien is going to pay off, or if this ends up being the latest move in television that had a lot of flare and just didn’t pan out in the end. Tune in Monday night to decide for yourself, as the first episode of Conan airs at 11 p.m. PT/ET.