Conan O'Brien is a big name in the late night TV game. He started his career in late night way back in 1993 on NBC with Late Night with Conan O'Brien, then moved up to The Tonight Show for a brief stint from 2009-2010. After NBC gave The Tonight Show back to Jay Leno in 2010, O'Brien made the move to TBS for new show Conan. Despite all his time in the spotlight on the small screen, however, O'Brien has come out and revealed that he'd be fine if he no longer had a slot in a late night network lineup, saying this:
Five or ten years from now, because TV's changing so rapidly, I might not have a late night TV show. But I might have something on the Internet where I go to different countries as a comedic ambassador, and that might be really fascinating for me.
The landscape of television certainly is changing rapidly, as streaming services like Netflix and cord-cutting cable packages like Sling allow viewers options for how they consume television that weren't there only a few years ago. In the not-too-distant future, there simply may not be enough of an audience for a show like Conan for TBS to want to keep it on the air. That said, Conan O'Brien clearly isn't against adapting to the times. His comments during a conversation on the Inside the Hive podcast (via Vanity Fair) indicate that he's on board with sharing his comedy in a brand new way on a new platform. The Internet is already the place to be for some TV shows; why not something starring him?
The Conan host went on in his chat to explain further why he's so willing to embrace online television, saying this about the market in general:
I think the 'linear vs digital' thing has got to go away and you've gotta realize that it's all one piece. And at a certain point, I don't care how people experience me. I have fans in Taiwan. I'm not on the air in Taiwan. . . . It's getting to the point where it's irrelevant to me. It doesn't matter to me. I just want people to see the stuff.
Platforms like YouTube have given TV personalities a much broader reach than they would have had ten years ago. Late night TV shows tend to do well on YouTube as users check out opening monologues and guest interviews without needing to tune in for the whole broadcast or even sit down at a certain time.
It's definitely not likely that the popularity of streaming video is going to go down any time soon, and hosts like Conan O'Brien are probably going to need to stay on top of how viewers prefer to consume their media if they're going to remain in the game. While ratings are still quite important -- as Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon know well nowadays -- O'Brien's openness to change may give him an advantage. We'll have to wait and see.
You can catch new episodes of Conan on weeknights at 11 p.m. ET on TBS. Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for the latest in TV news, and don't forget to check out our summer TV premiere schedule to discover all your viewing options now and in the coming weeks. Be sure to drop by our rundowns for cable/streaming and broadcast TV renewals and cancellations as well.