NBC Extends O’Brien Pact, Shortens Week

NBC has extended its deal with “Late Night” host Conan O’Brien for roughly another six-month cycle that will carry the program at least into next fall.

In addition, the network announced that beginning Dec. 11 the show will broadcast only four original episodes each week, making Monday a repeat night. “Late Night” followed a similar pattern when David Letterman was hosting the show, using the off day to produce taped pieces.

The series has aired five days a week since O’Brien took over in September 1993. Repeats will be culled from the more than 500 hours already produced.

NBC has been pleased with recent ratings for “Late Night,” which is averaging a 2.0 rating, 10 share in Nielsen during the November sweeps thus far and a 1.1 rating among both adults 18-49 and 25-54.

Starting this week the show also will expand from once a week to seven days a week on NBC Super Channel in Europe. “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” is produced by NBC Prods, in association Lome Michaels’ Broadway Video.

A spokesman for “Late Late Show With Tom Snyder,” which airs in the same slot, said there are no plans to follow suit and that the CBS program will remain original five nights a week.

In a statement O’Brien said, “Returning to ‘ Late Night’s’ original schedule means we can shoot more remotes, execute more ambitious comedy segments and drink lots of cheap wine on Sunday nights.”

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