Conan Saga Shows the Increasing Clout of Affiliates

By Andrew Gauthier 

Broadcasting & Cable

Conan OBrien‘s bombshell announcement that he was moving to TBS, not Fox, represented a number of compelling developments in the TV world. Perhaps most notably, it was another broadcast giant heading over to cable. More subtly, it revealed the increasing might that affiliates are accruing these days. While the Fox affiliates acknowledged how rare it was for an established late-night performer to be available, the large majority preferred to keep their more lucrative late news and syndicated programming instead.

While Fox was keen to land OBrien, network sources, who were not authorized to speak on the record, shared that Conan-to-Fox cratered because it simply did not work for the bulk of the affiliate body (as well as News Corp.’s syndication division). The notion was seconded by one Fox affiliate manager after the NAB Show in Las Vegas last week: “I guess I’d have to say that the affiliates put enough pressure on to negate that deal.” More…