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Turner President on Conan O’Brien Show: It Might Go Primarily Digital

Variety logo Variety 1/6/2017 Todd Spangler
© Provided by Variety

Conan O’Brien’s late-night show on TBS may evolve into a primarily digitally distributed show, Turner president David Levy said at the Variety Entertainment Summit at CES.

The TV landscape is changing, and “Conan” could remain on television weeknights, or air on TV once a week with episodes going on digital platforms the rest of the week, Levy said.

“The definition of a television network in 10 years, what’s that going to mean? Premium video content is what’s really important to Turner,” said Levy, who was interviewed by Variety Co-Editor-in-Chief Andrew Wallenstein. What’s less important is how and where the audience watches it, according to Levy.

Levy noted that Turner has made no decisions at this point about “Conan.”

“Conan has had a longstanding relationship with Turner Broadcasting. He’s a crucial part of what we do at TBS,” said Levy. O’Brien’s contract runs through 2018, and “I’m sure he’ll be here for many years to come.”

Word that Turner is contemplating a change to the format for “Conan” — including potentially cutting the weeknight show to once a week — emerged Thursday, with the cable programmer citing multiple other projects the comedian and host is working on for TBS.

A large crowd turned out at the Variety event to see former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal, who is a co-host on TNT’s “Inside the NBA” show. Shaq gave credit to Levy and the team at Turner for producing a fun and entertaining show.

“We have a lot of humorous people on set,” said Shaq at Variety‘s event. “If we’re going to keep you up that late, we want to make you laugh.”

O’Neal, who noted that he was an early investor in Google, said he’s an avid user of new and emerging technologies — and said he was almost thrown off the plane from Orlando to Las Vegas this week because he was wearing virtual-reality goggles as he was checking out a VR roller-coaster.

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