12 January 2010 757 Views

Viral Watch: Team Conan or Team Leno? Either Way, NBC is Dying

by Robert Sugar

NBC has tried to embrace viral marketing by launching multiple campaigns for shows like The Office, Community, and even Late Night, but it seems that NBC is now shooting themselves in the foot. I’ll admit their not “launching” a campaign this time, but their recent handling of the Jay Leno-Conan O’Brien problem has caused quite the stir on social networks, like Twitter, creating a negative campaign against the already dying NBC.

Tens-of-thousands of people are tweeting “Team Conan” in support of the late night comedian who recently announced he’d leave NBC  if “The Tonight Show” is pushed to a 12:05 time slot, allowing “The Jay Leno Show” a half-hour time slot starting at 11:35.  “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,” said O’Brien. “The “Tonight Show” at 12:05 simply isn’t the “Tonight Show.”

While the internet-savvy “youth” may support Conan, Leno is the safe choice for NBC. Jay Leno has already proven himself in the 11:35 slot, something Conan never had the time to do. FOX has shown interest in late night comedy shows, but has yet to go after Conan – at least officially. NBC has yet to respond to Conan’s statement, so it will be interesting to see how they deal with all of this late night chaos.

This debacle has shown the negative impact of ‘viral consumers,’ who also outed Sacha Baron Cohen docu-comedy – Bruno. Social networks are a very powerful thing, and are not yet completely understood by companies – like NBC. In any case, NBC is trying to deal with this in the most formidable fashion possible, but recent history has shown that social media can be a deal breaker or a life saver (sometimes, literally). I wish NBC luck, because I have no idea how they’re going to get out of this one.

What do you think – Should NBC take Leno over Conan . . . or Conan over Leno? How do you see social media impacting the future of  “private business?” Leave a comment below.



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