George Lopez Gets Canned: Conan’s Fault?

A little less than a year after getting bumped from his 11 p.m. time slot to make way for Conan, George Lopez is officially out of a job. TBS canceled Lopez Tonight yesterday.

Is Conan to blame? Vulture says no.

Hardly. Fact is, while some pundits tried to spin Conan O’Brien’s bumping of Lopez Tonight to midnight a little under a year ago as a demotion for Lopez, if anything, it was a life preserver. Lopez Tonight was turning in mediocre numbers when it aired at 11 p.m. and its renewal for a season two was hardly assured before O’Brien entered the picture. It’s possible TBS might have given the show another season — it costs less to produce that O’Brien’s show — but, most likely, Lopez would’ve almost certainly ended up where it is today: canceled.

Grantland’s Andy Greenwald agrees.

Here is the number one reason why TBS cancelled Lopez Tonight: nobody watched it. OK, that’s an exaggeration, but not by much: recently the show was pulling in a mere 400,000 viewers a night — or, as those in the biz call it, a “Cleveland.”

The troublemakers at TMZ, however, say Conan pulled a Leno.

Now the bigger story.  It looks like Conan did to George what Jay Leno did to Conan.  You’ll recall, when Jay Leno came back to NBC, his 10 PM show tanked and killed Conan’s ratings.

Well Lopez had the 11 PM time slot for its first season, but then when Conan came to TBS a year ago he took over the 11 PM slot and Lopez moved to midnight — meaning George was relying on Conan to deliver a good lead-in.

But when the change was made, George’s audience plummeted 40%.

As far as where TBS goes from here, we tend to agree with Bill Simmons’ analysis.