Predictably most assume a late night show at Fox is really the only option for O'Brien given that CBS and ABC already have successful late night franchises and that really no one before or since Arsenio Hall has conquered after prime time talk in the syndication world.
But I believe that opportunity exists for Conan who is more than just a talk show host (and originally was badly shoehorned into the role when he took over for David Letterman back in the waning hours of the first George Bush administration). Conan's true expertise is as a creator of cutting edge content, going back to his days a writer on SNL and The Simpson, and, as demonstrated through the whole "I'm With CoCo" movement, a powerful brand.
No, Mr. Murdoch and his associates at News Corp need to do more than give Conan a job.
They need to make him a partner.
Imagine, as part of his deal, Conan would be given some share, even if microscopic, of ownership in Fox which could be re-branded "Conan O'Brien's FOX Network."
With the massive cross-ownership of media properties Fox's parent company, News Corp, has under it's corporate umbrella, the synergy that could be leveraged between a Fox-O'Brien merger could be huge. Of course, a talk show at 11:00 p.m. would be part of it, but even with O'Brien's popularity, given current realities, it would take at least a few years for the network to gain the clearance across it's affiliates to come even close to taking on Jay and Dave.
However by bringing O'Brien on board, some of the following laundry list could really boost both brands and lift the tide for the 11pm show boats:
- Make Conan the Executive Producer of The Simpsons.
- Conan's production company, Conanco, could produce both television shows and films for Fox, including edgy comedies for the FX Channel and Fox's what the hell do we do with it second chain, MyNetworkTV.
- Have Conan make funny visits to Fox News Channel shows, or big games on FoxSportsNet.
- Conan could be the key to invigorating NewsCorp's moribund MySpace which has been abandoned primarily for Facebook and Twitter.
- Air special Conan pay-per-view extravaganzas on Fox-owned DirecTV.
- Conan could have a regular column in News Corp's massive network of newspapers on nearly every continent including New York's infamous Post.
- Besides the Fox Network and Fox's cable properties, News Corp owns even more TV networks in Europe, the Mid-East, South America, the South Pacific and Asia. International Conan - not a problem!