retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

There is a piece in Variety this week that grabbed my attention, about an appearance that late night talk show host Conan O'Brien made at a television conference, during which he talked about his brief tenure on the "Tonight Show" (where he succeeded and then was succeeded by Jay Leno, who seemed unwilling to give up the job), and subsequent move to TBS, where he currently hosts a show.

“I was standing on a fault line,” O'Brien said, noting that on one side was “traditional, old-time viewers”; on the other, “niche, social media driven, very vocal.” He was a guy that didn't even know what Twitter was at that time, but, Variety writes, "that all changed when the younger demographic 'rose up in my defense,' he said. 'I was crippled by my old world view of checking overnight ratings.'

"During the blackout when he wasn’t allowed to communicate with the press , he was allowed to use social media — 'I sent out one tweet and sold out the comedy tour,' he recalled. 'I didn’t even know what the show was, and we sold out venues across America. To this day, it’s one of the most fun things I’ve ever done.'

"That crash course in social media revolutionized his perspective — and what would become his late night show on TBS. “I now live in a world where some of my most ardent fans don’t own televisions,” he said. “At first I was upset by that, and then I realized I had this freedom to reach them in new ways … Now when people get excited about something, they make it their own. They grab it, they share it with their friends. It’s a much more intimate experience."

Which speaks volumes, I think, about so much other than late night television talk shows. We live in a world where traditional expectations simply don't mean as much as they used to, and we all have to find new measurements for what is successful, what is meaningful, and what moves the needle in significant ways.

We're all standing on fault lines.

It is an Eye-Opener.
KC's View: