It’s been a weird week for fans of TBS’s flagship late-night program Conan, with the network repeatedly hinting, but never outright stating, that a major formatting change is in the works for Conan O’Brien’s talk show. Yesterday, the network suggested the series might move to a once-a-week format, before retracting the idea with a comment that Conan would be staying in its regular spots “for now.” Today, though, Turner Broadcasting president David Levy told reporters at a Variety Entertainment Summit that the show might go “primarily digital”—i.e., reduce its TV broadcast schedule, but increase its online clip production—in the near future.
According to Levy, TBS just plain doesn’t care how O’Brien’s content arrives for viewers, as long as it keeps coming in. (Along those same lines, the network announced yesterday that it would be spinning off a half-hour version of Conan’s popular “Clueless Gamer” segment, the better to produce those precious viral clips.) “The definition of a television network in 10 years, what’s that going to mean? Premium video content is what’s really important to Turner,” Levy said, which is presumably good news for O’Brien, whose show is the lowest-rated in mainstream late-night. It does do reasonably well on social media and in clip form, though, with the disconnect presumably coming from Conan’s cable-based nature.
Levy made it clear, though, that nothing is changing right now. (Turner seems to have picked up a systemic allergy to pulling the trigger on this stuff.) For now, Conan is still staying exactly where it is. It remains to be seen for how long.