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What if Conan O’Brien were a beer?

If you don’t already think that Conan O’Brien can be brilliant go back and watch Season 4 of The Simpsons. He was the producer for some of the very best episodes. But perhaps the Simpsons aren’t for you . . . and perhaps you’re still pissed off at O’Brien because he twice seemed less than cordial to Michael Jackson when Jackson appeared on his show (here’s Jackson’s account of the first).

But let’s agree that O’Brien is a popular niche product. So are Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, but they’ve earned a spot in our culture at least equal to “microbrews.” I didn’t have a beer in hand the other day read David Carr’s analysis in The New York Times the mess NBC has made of “The Tonight Show” franchise, but I might have had my beer goggles on.

In the old paradigm, networks operated from Olympian heights, but with cable outlets multiplying, a network’s size and mass audience are not always an advantage. While cable networks can pick and choose their spots, building discrete successes while living off a combination of fees and advertising, broadcast networks are at the top of a huge ecosystem where their every move lands forcefully on affiliated locals.

In a country this size a niche can be pretty big. Big enough that large companies, some of them breweries, will start to covet that share. They need to be careful how they go after it.

The message to the younger talent is one thing — wait for a turn that may never come or may be taken back at any second — but the message to younger audiences is even clearer: a legacy industry will default to legacy assets and ride them down to the bitter end . . . .

Twitter nation was livid, of course. “Nice work NBC. Take out the only late night host my age range and younger will even consider watching,” said @MatthewJBrown, Tweeting the sentiments of many.

Based on the times Jackson appeared on O’Brien’s show it seems he might not understand this analogy:

He clearly isn’t Miller Lite. He might not be Blue Moon White or Samuel Adams Boston Lager. But he’s bigger and more real than Duff.


2 Responses to What if Conan O’Brien were a beer?

  1. Phil January 12, 2010 at 10:55 am #

    Leno is Bud Lite. Letterman would be more like guinness, with that weird bitter edge.

    O’Brien is tougher. Some of his humor is frat boy to me. Has an ugly streak of Coors in him.

  2. Mario (Brewed For Thought) January 12, 2010 at 4:33 pm #

    I agree Phil. Guinness isn’t funny either.

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