San Francisco's Revision3 Tries to Sign Conan

Internet-video startup makes late-night star an offer

By Owen Thomas
|  Monday, Jan 18, 2010  |  Updated 6:42 PM PDT
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As the late-night wars enter their absurdist stage, a San Francisco-based online-video venture has declared itself for Team Conan, offering to help the Tonight Show host escape NBC by taking his show online.

Ryan Vance, Revision3's vice president of programming and production, posted an open letter to the company's blog offering O'Brien "a brand-new show of your choosing."

Revision3 is best known for Diggnation, a Web-video show hosted by Digg founder Kevin Rose, and other technology-themed offerings.

O'Brien is close to signing a deal in which NBC will pay him $40 million to get out of his contract, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The tone of Vance's offer verged on the satirical, noting the absurdity of scheduled television shows in an age of on-demand entertainment: "some may watch your show at 11:35, some at 12:05, some at 10:00 ... and who cares?"

But Revision3 CEO Jim Louderback insisted that the offer was made in earnest and his company would make a good home for O'Brien.

"We're totally serious," said Louderback. "We'll give him a piece of the company. Whatever it takes. We're really good at taking people with a voice and building great shows around them. We're good at helping people be themselves. Plus we're easy to work with and we're laidback, not like those NBC people."

It's not clear that the economics of online video could work for a major star like O'Brien. Online-video revenues last year were projected to hit around $1 billion for 2009. Television advertising, meanwhile, remains a $70 billion business.

But Louderback said it's time for a star to move online: "In the end, Conan may go to Fox or somewhere else and make millions. But the reality is we will see personalities who are big on TV move to the Internet. It will be somebody big, and it will be soon."

It's not the first time that the late-night saga has gotten wrapped up in the Internet world: Last week, O'Brien put his show up for sale on Craigslist.

Here's Revision3's offer to O'Brien:

Mr. Conan “CoCo” O’Brien,

I’m taking this opportunity to officially offer you a brand-new show of your choosing here at Revision3. Rest assured, you’ll be able to bring your set, band and even Andy (especially Andy) with you as you transition to our cutting-edge online TV network. We have room for the Masturbating Bear, FedEx Pope and even Mini Jay Leno here on the internet.

Have you seen the internet lately? It’s huge!

Now I know what you’re thinking: “This is absolutely the offer I’ve been waiting for.” I’m sure you’re also thinking: “but I have a traditional TV network show right now, and offers from others, why would I leave the traditional networks?” One word, Conan: the future. (OK, that’s two words). I know you don’t have a big footprint in online media at the moment, but take our word for it: Internet television is the future. The space has seen a 35% average increase in advertising spending in 2009. (Just think how many cigars that would buy for Triumph The Comic Insult Dog).

Here’s another benefit the internet can offer: no official air time. That’s right. NO AIR TIME. This is the world of non-linear entertainment: some may watch your show at 11:35, some at 12:05, some at 10:00…and who cares….you finished shooting the show at 6:30 and are asleep by then anyhow!

I know you’re also weighing countless job offers from extended cable networks and hardcore porn channels. Just know we serve more videos than your average porn site (not true) and have more viewers than your average extended cable network (true).

To sum up, Conan, you have the keys to the kingdom here at Revision3. You want to change our studio around? Done. Want to move any of our existing shows to 10pm Please do. Want to give Andy his own show so he can finally truly control the universe? Done. You name the game, we’ll make it happen.

Other benefits:
- A fantastic creative and supportive working environment
- No network censors
- Top notch adsales team monetizing your show
- Complimentary broadband
- “Competitive” salary (you’re going to have more money than Oprah from NBC, so what do you care?!)
- Managed social media strategy, building a dedicated audience around your show
- Decent benefits

Call me any time, day or night. As one “really tall guy” to another, I promise never to pull a Jeff Zucker on you. Here’s hoping Revision3, internet television, can be the new home to countless string dances in the future!

Ryan Vance
VP Programming/Production

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