By Corey McMahon
Boycott NBC. Do it.
For those who only skimmed headlines during the late-night scandal this will seem like an overly dramatic response, but I assure you it’s not. The ousting of Conan from “The Tonight Show” is an insult to the comedian who put everything he had into improving the quality and legacy of a classic TV dynasty.
When Conan took over “Tonight” in June 2009, Jay Leno had apparently changed his mind and decided he wasn’t actually ready to retire. NBC graciously gave Leno his very own primetime talk show to air every night of the week at 10 p.m.
The Jay Leno Show inevitably fell in the ratings and local NBC affiliates threatened to broadcast their own programming at 10 p.m., because they needed higher ratings to lead audiences into their local news programs.
The Jay Leno Show had to be canceled, but Leno still wasn’t ready to retire. “The Tonight Show’s” ratings had dipped with Conan, but with only seven months under his belt, Conan had not received much time to build his audience, either.
The solution NBC proposed bumped the entire late-night lineup back one hour, starting with Jay Leno’s show. Being later means fewer viewers, so Leno’s acceptance of this proposal would be his success at the detriment of all the other shows after him.
Luckily, Conan stood up to Leno and NBC and rejected the proposal. In a open letter to NBC he said, “I sincerely believe that delaying the Tonight Show into the next day to accommodate another comedy program will seriously damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting.”
NBC, however, wouldn’t let Leno go, so Conan left, and Leno took back his old post at “Tonight.” Conan held his last show Friday, Jan 22.
As I’ve talked to people about the ordeal, many have said to me, what should Conan be upset about? He walked away with millions of dollars in severance, some of which he gave to his staff because he was upset with NBC’s compensation. He’s even gained some popularity and sympathy from viewers. Why shouldn’t he be happy?
But it is not now, nor was it ever, about money. It was always about the years of hard work and dedication to NBC—all with the hope of hosting “The Tonight Show”—being forgotten literally overnight.
The right move would have been letting Leno go. He had a long run with NBC, but his time was up. Conan was the next era in “Tonight.” NBC showed that they care nothing for company dedication and loyalty.
So I will boycott NBC, and I hope to watch Conan put the network behind him, as well. The question is: What will he do next?
I hope he utilizes the Internet to still get his comedy out to the public. I hope that after seven months, he hosts a show on another network and simply destroys NBC in the ratings. Lastly, I hope that they see that forgetting the dedication and loyalty of employees is not a good business decision.
I’m with Conan.