As the late night landscape continues to evolve, Conan O’Brien is making some significant changes to his Conan series on TBS. Rumors swirled last year that Conan was considering shifting to a weekly format, more in the vein of Last Week Tonight or Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. That’s apparently not happening anymore, but starting in 2019 Conan will be a half-hour series instead of a traditional hourlong late night talk show. The move comes in concert with the celebration of 25 years in late night TV for Conan O’Brien, who started with Late Night with Conan O’Brien on NBC, then famously hosted The Tonight Show for a short tenure until NBC decided it wanted Jay Leno back and pushed Conan out. It was at that point that Conan set up shop at TBS, where Conan has evolved into its own unique spin on the late night format with regular specials in which Conan travels abroad and documents his experience.
In addition to shifting to a half-hour format four nights a week, it was announced that TBS and Conan’s Team Coco are extending their partnership to include additional television, digital, and live events. This will include talent deals with stand-up comedians, driven by live touring and original digital content. The big kick off happens later this year, when O’Brien and a group of comics will hit the road on a multi-city tour hosted by O’Brien himself.
O’Brien will also continue to forge ahead with more international specials for Conan, which will continue to be hourlong programs. Additionally, in celebration of this expanded deal, O’Brien’s entire catalogue from Late Night with Conan O’Brien and Conan will be available digitally on TBS.
The late night landscape shifted considerably a few years ago with the departures of David Letterman and Jon Stewart, and the evolution to more politically focused shows has led to increased ratings for folks like Seth Meyers and Stephen Colbert, while more traditional showmen like Jimmy Fallon have struggled a bit to find their place. It took a while for O’Brien to figure out where he fit into all of this, but his international specials continue to be must-sees, and it’ll be interesting to see what a half-hour episode of Conan looks like as the brand appears to be pivoting more towards the celebration of stand-up comedians.
It’s unclear when, exactly, the shift to a half-hour format will occur, or if the road tour will be recorded and televised, but these here are interesting happenings in the world of late night television.