Reportedly, FOX is putting pressure on local stations to set aside the 11:00 pm time slot for a possible new Fall season Conan O'Brien show. However, no financial deal has yet been struck between FOX and O'Brien, which is still a critical issue.
But, some local FOX network affiliates are kicking at the notion of bumping profitable programming such as THE OFFICE reruns in favor of the O'Brien, who badly failed in the 11:35 time slot over at NBC. And sometimes, moving a show cover to another network badly fails in the ratings.
A prime example of moving a show to another network that grossly failed was the mega-disaster $40 million dollar deal that moved FAMILY MATTERS and STEP BY STEP over to CBS from ABC. CBS had hoped to start a new family comedy programming block called the "CBS Block Party", but audiences failed to watch in big numbers, and FAMILY MATTERS was a huge ratings disaster for CBS where the show soon fell out of the top 100 TV shows.
Many local CBS affiliates found the ratings so low that some even aired paid programming infomercials in the 8:00pm FAMILY MATTERS time slot because it made more money than airing the fresh CBS episodes of the show. CBS soon pulled the program from the network lineup, and during the Summer ran the unaired episodes as a sort of dumping ground for all of the money they wasted on this $40 million dollar disaster.
CBS's bid to create a family oriented programming slot on Friday nights failed for several reasons. Part of the problem was that the ratings for FAMILY MATTERS had been on a slow slide ever since the second season of the show where it peaked at #15 among all shows. By season eight on ABC, the show had tumbled down to #50. For the ninth season at CBS, the show was down to #108 among all shows. For CBS to pay $40 million to purchase a declining entity was a very bad business decision.
Another problem for CBS was that with their older demographic of viewers, fewer younger viewers would migrate over to CBS, where many of the viewers tended to be near 50 at the time. Another problem is that there really wasn't as much of an audience for "family programming" as some would think. CBS has done far better in later years by airing dark dramas such as GHOST WHISPERER in this Friday time slot.
What FOX can learn from all of this is that Conan O'Brien has his fans for sure, but he was a ratings disaster for NBC in the 11:35 time slot. And usually moving a show to another network brings along less viewers as well. Further, as local stations find a network show lagging, they're willing to even air paid programming junk at prime-time if they have to to break even. All of this are bad omens for FOX here.
But FOX hopes to buck the trend, and Conan O'Brien will give FOX the best shot that they can at putting together a 11:00 talk show to compete with Leno and Letterman, even if the ratings are much smaller. FOX also hopes that Conan can build an audience as well. FOX looks willing to gamble on O'Brien here, even if many local FOX stations aren't too excited to be onboard for looks like a huge financial risk to them.