At first glance, Conan O'Brien's move to cable's TBS instead of the long-rumored deal with Fox looks like a demotion for the very brief host of NBC's "The Tonight Show."
But it's a good move because it reduces the pressure on O'Brien and sends him to a channel that appeals to the younger viewers that appreciate his brand of humor more than Jay Leno's.
Clearly, it probably wouldn't have happened if some of Fox's affiliates hadn't been reluctant to give up the late-night hour and the revenue that comes with it so the network could hire O'Brien and put him on at 11 p.m. nightly.
However, cable has been very kind to comedians and satirists like Jon Stewart, Bill Maher, Stephen Colbert and George Lopez and the standard of success is much lower than it is on network TV.
O'Brien joked about that in the statement that came with the TBS announcement that his 11 p.m. show is expected to debut in November before the Lopez show, which is moving to midnight.
"In three months, I've gone from network television to Twitter to performing live in theaters, and now I'm headed to basic cable," said O'Brien. "My plan is working perfectly."
Sure, it wasn't O'Brien's plan to land on TBS. But in the long run, it could be a good career move.
-- Alan Pergament