So Conan's free to appear on another network. Yay! NBC's not a total douche.
I wondered before why NBC affiliates would rather show reruns than the Jay Leno Show, and the same premise holds for Fox: why wouldn't the affiliates run Conan's show? How could they possibly lose when you compare it to what they air now--reruns of The Simpsons and Seinfeld, a show that completed its run over a decade ago?
This Broadcasting & Cable piece breaks it down:
For the Fox owned and affiliated stations, picking up O'Brien would appear to cause far more pain than gain. The performance of the stations in the Top 10 markets at 11:30 p.m. is largely equivalent to NBC's Tonight Show ratings in the same hour. But the stations keep far more ad inventory in that hour now than they would if they were forced to give it up to Fox. Every half-hour syndicated show offers stations as much as six minutes of advertising inventory to sell, while a half-hour of network inventory typically offers only about a minute.
Sources say Fox brass has asked the Fox-owned stations to run the numbers, and stations have responded that they expect they would lose millions if the local outlets had to give a late-night hour back to the network. The Fox affiliates fall somewhere between lukewarm and intrigued about the notion of O'Brien shifting to their late night air, perhaps at 11:30. Some wonder why he should expect to do better on Fox after posting lagging ratings during his Tonight Show run, while others say he's a rare bankable talent that may be a free agent.