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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

question of the day: Should Jon Stewart be afraid of Conan O’Brien?

Last winter, NBC decided to cancel Jay Leno’s disastrous experiment in primetime talk shows — which American audiences stayed away from in droves — and booted Conan O’Brien out of the late-night NBC spot in order to reinstate Leno there. O’Brien landed at the basic-cable channel TBS, and his new talk show debuts there tonight at 11pm Eastern.

Guess who else is on at 11pm Eastern on basic cable?

[A]s O’Brien makes his historic late-night leap — or fall — from broadcast to cable (with a lower budget to match) one person who might not be so welcoming is Jon Stewart.

Why? Because the “Daily Show” now faces something it didn’t have before: competition.

“’Conan’ absolutely presents a threat for Stewart,” Brad Adgate, senior vice president of research at Horizon Media, told TheWrap. “Until now, ‘The Daily Show’ has had to compete with local news and syndicated sitcoms.”

That’s Dylan Stableford at TheWrap.com, and he’s correct. The core audience for both Stewart and O’Brien is identical: young adults.

So: Should Jon Stewart be afraid of Conan O’Brien? Will DVR and online viewing options — The Daily Show is available to view in its entirety online the next day, as O’Brien’s will be — become even more important when calculating ratings? Or will it be more of the same old crap, with corporate media failing to understand the evolving media environment and figuring out how to make entertainment pay even if viewers aren’t sitting in front of a TV when a show airs? TheWrap points out, for instance, how O’Brien has kept his fans mobilized and engaged via Twitter while he’s been on his TV hiatus, and that could continue.

I supposed it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out. What do you think?

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