With Conan O’Brien officially out of his contract with NBC and able to broadcast from another network effective September 1, 2010, speculation is underway as to where the comedian will go next.
While no competing network was able to formally court Conan prior to the finalizing of his NBC exit deal, it is not as if no rival broadcaster gauged Conan’s interest via informal feelers.
National broadcast network FOX has demonstrated early interest and remains a frontrunner to acquire Conan once he becomes available in the fall of 2010. According to THR, however, a number of cable networks have also expressed interest.
Such cablers include FX (part of the FOX family), USA (part of the NBC family), TNT, TBS, Comedy Central, HBO and Showtime.
O’Brien’s manager Gavin Polone would not confirm specifics of the late-night host’s leanings, but he did note that Team Conan wants to take advantage of the momentum and fan support he has experienced in the wake of his controversial falling out with NBC.
Conan O’Brien, who inherited the classic late-night franchise “The Tonight Show” from Jay Leno in 2009, parted ways with the network after refusing to have his timeslot bumped. NBC, which debuted “The Jay Leno Show” as a nightly primetime show at 10PM in 2009, announced it was canceling the program this January. The network hoped to bring Leno back to the 11:35 slot he dominated as host of “The Tonight Show,” pre-empting the O’Brien series till 12:05AM.
O’Brien argued that such a move meant the destruction of the “Tonight” franchise and refused to sign off on the move. NBC and O’Brien thus parted ways with a roughly $50 million settlement, allowing Leno to return as host of “The Tonight Show” (11:35-12:35) beginning this March.