Conan O’Brien will continue to hold forth on Time Warner’s TBS through at least 2018, under the terms of a new contract that will extend the host’s relationship with the network for three years.
The extension is the second the two sides have negotiated in the last two years. TBS said in 2013 that it had agreed to a new pact with the lanky, red-headed comic that would keep him on its air through November of 2015. The new agreement comes as the senior ranks at Time Warner’s Turner unit have exhibited some churn, with entertainment chief Steve Koonin departing in April to become CEO of the Atlanta Hawks.
In announcing the new deal, Turner and O’Brien bring a small degree of stability to a timeslot that is in the midst of wrenching change. Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers started in the 11:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. slots at NBC earlier this year, and David Letterman is slated to retire from CBS’ “The Late Show:” in 2015, while Craig Ferguson will step down from the network’s “Late Late Show” at the end of this year. Stephen Colbert, who hosts Comedy Central’s “Colbert Report,” will take Letterman’s perch. What is more, Chelsea Handler has indicated she will leave her “Chelsea Lately” at the end of this year.
O’Brien’s show, “Conan. ” does not get the biggest numbers in late night, but TBS has indicated the show’s value comes from its ability to draw viewers between the ages of 18 and 34, as well as its popularity in digital and social-media realms.
When “Conan” first launched in November, 2010, it enjoyed a huge upswell of interest owing to O’Brien’s previous treatment by NBC, which made him the host of “Tonight,” after he served years at the show that followed, “Late Night. ” NBC then reinstalled Jay Leno at the show in the wake of ratings performance by both O’Brien at 11:35 p.m. and Leno in a new five-days-a-week talk show NBC started at 10 p.m.
O’Brien’s first TBS broadcast scored around 4.2 million viewers on a live-plus-same-day basis, according to Nielsen, nearly 3.3 million of which were between 18 and 49. Since that time, however, the audience has settled as the controversy died down.
TBS said “Conan” is averaging 862,000 viewers in Live + 7 delivery. Advertisers, however, are typically more concerned with the number of people who watch in the first three days of a program’s broadcast. “Conan” viewership grew in the first quarter of 2014, TBS said, with adults 18-34 up by 12% and adults 18-49 up 5% compared to Q4.