Trying to boost its struggling “Late Night With Conan O’Brien,” NBC’s owned stations and a select number of its affiliates will start regularly repeating the show following “Saturday Night Live.”

In confirming the move, the network stressed that it is playing softball with stations on the matter, asking affiliates who don’t currently have post-“SNL” commitments to repeat the show Saturdays and questioning others about whether they can free up an hour down the road.

Currently, all NBC O&O’s except for WRC-TV in Washington, D.C., plus about 10 % of the web’s affiliates, have agreed to a sixth latenight airing of the O’Brien show — some directly out of “Saturday Night,” others on a delayed basis.

NBC aired O’Brien once before after “SNL” trying to generate sampling of the series. “Saturday Night” is averaging a 7.7 rating during the first quarter, roughly four times the average household number for “Late Night.”

KRON-TV in San Francisco has already placed itself in the middle of a tug-of-war over “Late Night,” pledging to delay the show to make room for MCA TV’s syndicated “Last Call,” then reversing that decision under pressure from NBC (Daily Variety, Feb. 24).

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