Fox’s Reilly Downplays Conan’s TBS Prospects

At first blush, it was the one “Oooh” moment in Wednesday’s Hollywood Radio and Television Society luncheon, otherwise a fairly conventional “Who’s going to pay for all this shit?” discussion about the TV business, as most of these things now tend to be.

But on further reflection, what Fox Entertainment Prez Kevin Reilly predicted about Conan O’Brien’s ratings when he premieres on TBS was simply honest and accurate, not a swipe — even a back-handed one.

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Schenkman & Goodman (seriously, they run out of names after that), which reps O’Brien, was asked what kind of rating the host could expect on the Turner network.

“The decimal will be on the left side of the number, not the right side,” Reilly chimed in.

Ooooh.

But not really. Reilly lives and dies by adults 18-49, and O’Brien was barely doing a 1 rating by that measure on NBC. Given his move to a smaller platform, it’s reasonable to assume his demo rating will slip to a 0.6 to 0.8 — roughly what “The Daily Show” does in the same timeslot.

Of course, Reilly looked a little petty by seeming to downplay O’Brien’s rating prospects, inasmuch as Fox didn’t land the great red host. But all he really did was state a likelihood with a high probability of truth in it.

Still, I expect the Team Coco people to express outrage — or at minimum O’Brien manager Gavin Polone to issue a strongly worded (anonymous) statement on his client’s behalf.

Come on, guys. It’s summer. Fight and feud a little. We need the news.

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