Why Fox Let Conan Go To Tbs
Fox Entertainment President Kevin Reilly acknowledged Thursday that his network may have dragged its feet in negotiating with Conan O'Brien because Fox affiliates were worried about what sort of ratings numbers he would draw against Jay Leno and David Letterman. On cable, he indicated, O'Brien could be successful with a rating of less than 1.0, but at Fox, "The decimal will be on the left side of the number, not the right side," Reilly predicted. However, if he had come to Fox, "there would have been an enormous amount of pressure that the decimal was on the right side." On cable, O'Brien could still be regarded as a success even if he didn't deliver audiences as large as his broadcast rivals, Reilly said, pointing to the fact that Jon Stewart rarely breaks the 1.0 mark. But at the same industry gathering, Sony Pictures TV President Steve Mosko said, "I think it's silly to talk about cable vs. broadcast, we're talking about television shows. ... People who like Conan are going to find Conan. We've got to throw that out." Meanwhile, Conan sidekick Andy Richter has told Daily Variety that TBS "has been nothing but supportive" as the new show comes together. "We can do whatever we want and be ourselves. And it feels like we'll be out of that ratings race," he said.