Thursday, January 21, 2010

Money talks on late-night TV

Conan's show sucked at 11:35. That's the reason the ratings were down — not because of his lead-ins. What's Jon Stewart's lead-in? What's SNL's lead-in? Conan did a watered-down, toothless version of his 12:35 show, and even his die-hard fans weren't crazy about it. These are the facts. Only after they canned him did he show flashes of the old Conan again. ...

Look, it's television. His job was to deliver ratings and revenue; he lost nearly 50 percent of Leno's 11:35 audience in six months, but took none of the blame and made no effort to fix his show. This wasn't his fault? ...

Leno's 11:35 show made $35–40 million profit for NBC; Conan's show was on pace to lose $5 million and had zero critical buzz. So it was a big deal, I think; look at where Conan was five years ago and where he is now. It's one of the biggest falls in TV history. NBC paid $43 million to get rid of him! It was the TV version of the Knicks buying out Stephon Marbury last year, only without tattoos, Kathleen Decker, and a truck party.
--Bill Simmons, New York, on why NBC was right to axe Conan

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