Conan O'Brien Decided to Leave His Talk Show After 28 Years for Another Gig

·3 min read
Photo credit: Tim Mosenfelder
Photo credit: Tim Mosenfelder


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It's the end of an era for fans of Conan O'Brien's late-night show.

June 24 will mark the official end of Conan on TBS, roughly 30 years after the comedian first started his late-night TV career. Conan had initially made his departure announcement this past November.

As longtime fans of Conan know, the beloved host got his start on NBC's Late Night show in 1993 after taking over for David Letterman. He then moved on to his self-titled TBS show in 2010 when Jimmy Fallon was named the host of The Tonight Show. It's hard to believe that a decade later, Conan is officially closing such a huge chapter in his life.

Why is Conan O'Brien leaving his TBS talk show?

When sharing the news this past fall, Conan joked in a statement, "In 1993, Johnny Carson gave me the best advice of my career: 'As soon as possible, get to a streaming platform.'"

Turns out, Conan will be leaving his talk show to spend time on a new weekly variety series for HBO Max, a new streaming service from WarnerMedia that launched in May 2020. Meanwhile, he will continue to create his beloved Conan Without Borders travel specials.

Photo credit: NBC
Photo credit: NBC

"I’m thrilled that I get to continue doing whatever the h--l it is I do on HBO Max, and I look forward to a free subscription," Conan quipped.

Though Conan's sudden departure may come as a shock for viewers, the move is, in a way, a long time coming. In 2018, TBS, which is also part of WarnerMedia, announced its intent to reduce Conan's late-night show from an hour to a half hour. At the time, Conan and network executives reasoned that it would resonate more with audiences if Conan were to use more of his time expanding his presence on digital, live and social media platforms.

Way back in 2017, conversations were already taking place between Conan and TBS president Kevin Reilly about potential adjustments.

"In the on-demand world we're in in television in general, the nightly talk show — in terms of a habit with an audience — is evolving like everything else," Kevin told The Hollywood Reporter three years ago. "Yet at the same token, you have 30 million people watching these videos of his."

Kevin continued: "He's going to continue to have a daily relationship with an audience. I don't know whether that will be on a number of different services, including TBS. That's the part we're trying to figure out — how does that all work together? The media landscape is changing and a guy who can toggle in back and forth between a number of different platforms — how does that all work together and how does that become formalized? That's what we're working on. I'm very excited about it."

As we know now, Conan did grow his brand quite a bit. Team Coco, Conan's multi-platform media company, reaches an impressive 55 million fans per month. His move to HBO Max appears to be just one more example of Conan's ever-growing brand expansion.

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