It's official: Conan O'Brien is moving to cable. The ousted late-night comedian will host his own 11 p.m. show on TBS. The announcement comes as a surprise to industry observers who expected a deal with Fox. Earlier today, O'Brien tweeted "In 3 months I've gone from network TV to Twitter to performing live in theaters, now I'm headed to basic cable. My plan's working perfectly." The decision will likely shake up the late-night wars across cable and network television. For starters, TBS's decision will bump back George Lopez's show to midnight. Here are the other new dynamics to watch for:
- Conan Has New Challengers Now, writes Bill Carter at The New York Times: "What it does set up is a new kind of heavyweight match in late night. Now Mr. O’Brien will be face to face with the two big stars of late-night in cable, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert of Comedy Central. All three men are close friends; now they will be measured directly against each other in the ratings."
- This Will Liberate Conan, writes Richard Lawson at Gawker: "We suppose the upside for die-hard Conan fans is that the grateful and less-scrutinized network will be more likely to give him free rein to do all the weirdo, out-there stuff he excels at — and that wasn't exactly a good fit for the stuffy Tonight Show institution. We're guessing this also means he isn't coming back to New York. Sigh."
- He's Doing to George Lopez What Leno Did to Him Nicholas Deleon at TechCrunch writes: "The irony of the situation is that, by getting his own show at 11pm on Mondays to Thursdays, Conan is pushing back the start time of the George Lopez show. Make of that what you will." Lopez, however, told O'Brien he's thrilled to have him on board: "I can’t think of anything better than doing my show with Conan as a lead-in."
- He's Got a Long Uphill Battle, writes Lynette Rice at Hollywood Insider: "It’s debatable whether O’Brien on TBS poses a huge threat to the broadcast networks since viewers have already decided who they prefer in late night. O’Brien got a huge promotional push when he took over The Tonight Show last year but he hasn’t able to maintain Jay Leno’s winning ratings — which is why NBC made the controversial decision to pull the chair out from under him. Leno returned to the time slot after the Olympics and, as expected, is back on top. Letterman trails in second place."